Ways of responding to trauma

Acknowledge that you have experienced a traumatic event and consider trying some of the following:

  • Reassure yourself that the traumatic event is over, that you are safe now, and that seeing mental images of the events is normal and will decrease over time.
  • If you want to be left alone, allow yourself time to be alone; this is a normal way to react after a highly stressful experience. However, if your mood is not improving when alone, it may be better to seek company.
  • If you are feeling alone or isolated, spend some time with friends or family.
  • Express your thoughts and feelings by talking to friends and family, or write, listen to music etc. Only do this if it feels comfortable, do not push yourself.
  • Do not feel that you have to be in control of your life straight away. Give yourself time to recover and rest.
  • Try to get back to your normal routine and go back to work when you feel you are able, even if at reduced hours.
  • Rest more; if you are having difficulty sleeping, get out of bed and try to do something calming instead, then try again.
  • Take care of your health as best you can; eat healthily, in smaller portions if necessary, and drink fluids regularly.
  • Be aware of how much tea and coffee you are drinking. These may further agitate your body when it is already under stress. Exercise can help burn off stress chemicals and assist with sleep.
  • Because traumatic events effect concentration, be more careful when undertaking activities like driving and cooking.
  • Avoid making major decisions. However, making smaller, day-to-day decisions can help to restore a sense of control.

It is important not to go through this experience alone. Grief is difficult enough by itself but when there is also trauma it is better to seek support.

It is best to avoid increased use of alcohol, prescription medication and other drugs. These can interfere with the recovery process and cause additional problems later on.

You should consider seeking out some professional help if:

  • you are having panic attacks
  • you feel very distressed and your life and routines are significantly disrupted
  • you are thinking of harming yourself or someone else.

Crisis support

If you are in an emergency, or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000. Other services include:

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