Caring for Yourself After a Traumatic Event (Article)

Research has shown that the way in which you take care of yourself the first few days following a traumatic event helps minimize the development of future psychological reactions to the event. Understanding the reactions of your body and your emotions, can help you deal with, and heal, the trauma of a critical event.

People respond differently to traumatic events.  If you have a strong reaction, it does not mean that you are mentally weak or emotionally ill. Reactions to traumatic events are considered “normal reactions to abnormal events.”

Take care of yourself

Although you may feel like going home and relaxing with a glass of wine for example, it is very important that you avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours. Alcohol affects the way in which you preserve memories of the traumatic event.

Caffeine is a stimulant and it is better to relax and be calm. The stimulation of caffeine after a traumatic event may make it harder to settle down and cope.

Your mind needs to process what happened so that it can resolve the feelings elicited by the event. Process the event with your co-workers, family members and friends, or a Best Care EAP Counselor.

Sometimes family and friends may not understand the feelings you are experiencing after a traumatic event. Ask your loved ones to help you deal with the event by being understanding and supportive.

A warm bath, a massage or enjoyable music are much better means of relaxing after a traumatic event then using alcohol or drugs or engaging in impulsive or compulsive behavior.

If your stress symptoms do not diminish after a reasonable amount of time, see your physician if you are having significant physical symptoms and your Best Care EAP Counselor for emotional or behavioral symptoms. Prompt attention to traumatic stress will ensure you minimize the possible long-term adverse effects of trauma.

For more information on how to cope following trauma, give Best Care EAP a call. 

To schedule your confidential appointment, call (402) 354-8000 or (800) 801-4182, or send an email.

Source: The Workplace Trauma Center, 2006