- mobilize a support system – reach out and connect with others, especially those who may have shared the stressful event
- talk about the traumatic experience with supportive listeners
- hard exercise like jogging, aerobics, bicycling, swimming, walking
- relaxation exercise like yoga, tai chi, stretching
- listening to relaxing guided imagery
- progressive deep muscle relaxation
- prayer and/or meditation
- hot baths
- music and art
- maintain balanced diet and sleep cycle as much as possible
- avoid over-using stimulants like caffeine, sugar, or nicotine
- commitment to something personally meaningful and important every day
- hug those you love, pets included
- eat warm turkey, boiled onions, baked potatoes, cream-based soups – these are tryptophane activators, which help you feel tired but good (like after Thanksgiving dinner)
- proactive responses toward personal and community safety – organize or do something socially active
- write about your experience – in detail, just for yourself or to share with others
- imagine yourself releasing all aspects of the traumatic experience from within yourself
- imagine being in the company of an animal or a very wise person who would completely and totally understand what the experience is like for you and who will comfort you.
People are usually surprised that reactions to trauma can last longer than they expected. It may take weeks, months, and in some cases, years to fully regain equilibrium. Many people will get through this period with the help and support of family and friends. But sometimes friends and family may push people to “get over it” before they’re ready. Let them know that such responses are not helpful for you right now, though you appreciate that they are trying to help. Many people find that individual, group, or family counseling is helpful. In particular, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is a more rapidly effective method for healing from trauma.
For information about how to help children and teens cope with trauma, you can visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website section Parents Can Help.
Adapted from: Patti Levin, LICSW, PsyD as found at David Baldwin’s Trauma Pages website and the Western Mass. EMDR Trauma Recovery Network website