During an event
- Breathe slowly and deeply
- Calm yourself through mental exercise
- Connect with others
- Observe your surroundings
- Get yourself to safety
Immediately after an event
- Make sure you are with people. Don’t go home to an empty house.
- Talk about the incident with others. Discuss your feelings and reactions.
- Remind yourself that the event is over and that you are now safe.
- If possible, get some physical exercise to burn off some of your tension and anxiety.
- Restrict caffeine and other stimulants.
- Try to eat something, even if you do not feel like eating.
- Avoid dependency on prescription or other substances.
- Sleep disturbance is normal. Do your best to get back to a normal sleep routine.
How to handle the next few days.
- Do not be afraid of your feelings.
- Remind yourself that your reactions are a normal result of trauma and will pass in time.
- Try to get back into your normal routine as soon as possible; you may need to gradually introduce yourself to tasks that seem difficult.
- If you feel uncomfortable, scared or anxious, take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you are safe.
- Be kind and patient with yourself; engage in enjoyable and relaxing activities.
- Continue to talk to your family, friends and colleagues about the trauma.
- Even if you feel a bit distant from other people, do not reject genuine support.
- Work on your general stress levels; make sure that you have adequate sleep, a good diet and regular exercise.
- Practice relaxation techniques to help reduce nervous tension and insomnia.
- Remember that accidents are more common after severe stress; be more cautious in your activities.
- Allow yourself time to deal with the memories. There may be some aspects of the experience that will be difficult, if not impossible, to forget.
- If your reaction(s) continues to seriously disrupt your life, seek appropriate help.
When to seek additional help.
- You are uncomfortable in your own skin, chronically afraid and/or hypervigilant and are restricting your actions because you don’t want to leave your safety zone.
- Obsessive thoughts and compulsions to act on them.
- Profoundly depressed, hopeless, helpless, guilty, or have considered suicide. You have persistent negative, even fatalistic, thoughts about the future.
- Your behavior has changed; argumentative, engaging in fights, abusing alcohol or medication, or are taking increased unnecessary risks.
- Your mind cannot relax, you have repeated horrific nightmares, frequent intrusive explicit flashbacks
- Things don’t feel real or you feel like you have lost your identity. You are unable to remember significant information about the traumatic event.
- You can’t find the energy for daily routines at home (showering, cooking) and at work (can’t concentrate on your job).
How to improve your resilience.
- Build your security skills through regular training such as HEAT.
- Maintain a supportive network; talk things over with caring friends and loved ones
- Live a healthy lifestyle: a healthy diet, physical exercise, maintain a regular sleep routine
- Think positively about yourself & remind yourself that you can get through the next situation
- Use stress management and coping skills, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation regularly
- Make time for activities you enjoy, try new activities or find new hobbies
- Find additional support as needed; a group, spiritual guidance, or therapist
- Clean up lingering daily stressors that will exacerbate the next major stressor; pay off credit card bills, send the mother in law home, change negative personal habits, etc.