6 Simple Ways to Process and Cope After a Traumatic Event

6 Simple Ways to Process and Cope After a Traumatic Event
6 Simple Ways to Process and Cope After a Traumatic Event 2

If you experience a traumatic event, it is important to know and accept that your feelings are valid. Traumatic events can happen anywhere at any time – not just in dangerous places like war zones or during car accidents. It’s common for survivors of trauma to feel many different emotions including anger, fear, sadness/depression , worry about the future , guilt over what they could have done differently etc..

A person who has experienced a traumatic event may find themselves feeling an array of confusing thoughts and strong physical responses . In order cope with these overwhelming sensations effectively as well as process the emotional consequences caused by such incidents; it is vital one understands their experiences were neither expected nor deserved . Furthermore, understanding how others around them might also be affected will help

I was born and raised in Redondo Beach, spending many days throughout my childhood in and around the pier. I was excited for adventures to the pier knowing that I would get to play games and ride the Tilt-a-whirl at the Fun Factory. I remember checking out all the live fresh seafood at the market, fishing off the pier, going to family dinners at Old Tony’s on the pier and bringing home so many glasses! Walking around the pier, hanging out with friends, shopping, rollerblading and bike riding. Paddling with Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club out of Redondo Beach Harbor and then hanging out at Najas after practice. To eventually having a family of my own and sharing my childhood memories with them while making their own.

The Redondo Beach Pier has been the heart of the South Bay community and that community was rocked to the core last night when an active shooter situation occurred. As a trauma therapist for over 15 years I have worked with just about every kind of trauma you could imagine. I ran the crisis response team as a school based therapist in Compton and Watts. I also have a practice in League City TX and teach at the local college in Texas City. The neighboring city is Santa Fe and in 2019 when the Santa Fe high school active shooter situation occurred I had students, clients, friends, and colleagues impacted by the devastating events. My fellow therapists responded for on site crisis counseling and had I been in Texas at the time I would have been right there with them. This time it hit home, and the feeling of my safe and happy memories became a place of tragedy.

As a trauma therapist my first reaction is to run toward the danger. To help as many people as I can. I reached out to fellow therapists in the area as well as several community members to see what we could do to provide services and support to our community. As I write this we are working on ways to make sure that anyone wanting or needing to process these events can come get assistance and resources. Like so many of us I want to see our community process, heal, and recover from last nights events. That will take time and the love and strength from our wonderful community. In the meantime I want to stress the importance of self care. Traumatic events such as this can show their impact instantly, hours, or days and sometime months later. Allow yourself time to process what happened. Many situations like this can bring up other traumatic memories or events from one’s past causing someone unrelated to the event to still experience a traumatic response. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself the time and space to process the trauma the best way or ways that work for you. Practice mindfulness, meditation, movement, art, music, or journaling to help process any thoughts or feelings that come up for you.

6 Simple Ways to Process and Cope After a Traumatic Event

Self care

Do something for yourself, something that you truly enjoy doing and something that you don’t have to do. (Some people enjoy grocery shopping but that is something you need to do so please find something that is solely for you). At least 5 min every day, you can increase time and frequency as needed.

Mindful Reading

Before reading, sit quietly for a few minutes. Bring your attention to your breath, letting go of thoughts and sensations, returning to the breath again and again. Then read. Notice if you read with more focus and appreciation. When you finish reading, sit again for a few minutes, again bringing your mind to your breath. At the end of your practice, notice what you have learned from the reading.

Being Here Now

Take a a few minutes every day to stop and tap into your 5 senses, take a moment to look around you, what you see, hear, touch/feel, smell, and taste? Let yourself absorb what is around you.

Journaling

Begin writing and write continuously for a set period of time, say 10 to 15 minutes. If it helps, use a prompt, like “Right now I am feeling….” Keep the pen moving, with no pauses to correct spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Write down whatever is arising in your mind, without judgment. Keep writing. When the time is up, stop and read.

Music and movement

Put on some music, maybe classical or slow tempo. Notice the sound and vibration of the notes, the sensations in your body as you listen, and the feelings the music brings up in you. When you notice thoughts arising, gently bring your attention back to the music. Breathe. If you feel your body wanting to move with the music let your body move and stay present in the moment.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Slowly tighten muscle groups, hold and then relax until you have gone through the entire body. This can also be done with engaging all of your muscles as tight as you can and hold it for a few seconds and then release and let your body relax, repeat 2 to 3 more times to let any tension release from the body. Guided video is attached. Bilateral music therapy – listen to bilateral music (you can find several on you tube and iTunes, make sure to listen to headphones). The slow bilateral stimulation has a naturally calming effect on your nervous system and can help you destress and relax. Video with music is attached.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/3AAH7vINhmQ

 

Additional resources

https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/pdf/Coping_with_Disaster_2.pdf

https://victims.ca.gov/for-victims/

Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

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