Recovery is a lifelong journey, and you will inevitably face events that challenge your recovery at specific points. While you can plan, prepare, and set goals to overcome obstacles, you can never wholly expect what is to come. For example, if you experience traumatic events related to a car accident, a death in the family, or the recent pandemic, you might feel overwhelmed and unable to focus on managing a healthy recovery. If you are currently experiencing trauma and having difficulty managing recovery, understand that there are different practices you can utilize that will help you cope. Let’s explore ways to understand your trauma better and manage trauma-related events to sustain a lasting and healthy recovery.
The Emotional Response to Trauma
It is normal to undergo traumatic stress following a distressing event. You might initially feel intense shock: confusion, fear, or feel numb and overwhelmed. Understand that these emotions and experiences are not limited to only you. Outlets such as the news and social media can feed your stress with stories of tragedy, suffering, and loss. Repeated exposure to events that trigger your trauma, such as the pandemic, might have you feeling hopeless and like you will never break free of the trauma.
Furthermore, trauma can shatter your sense of security and leave you feeling drained. Trauma can also cause mood swings, including strong feelings of grief, anger, and depression, and it can interfere with your sleep. Persistent feelings of trauma are a clear indication that it is not passing, and you will need to learn ways to cope with moving forward.
Minimize Media Exposure
Being tuned into every reminder of a traumatic event can have you rediscovering your trauma multiple times daily. Such exposure might bring up experiences or thoughts that create negative scenarios. Repeated exposure can even create trauma in those unaffected by the event. If you find that you feel stress or anxiety after watching the news or going onto social media, it is time to disconnect and limit your exposure.
Limiting yourself to watching 10 minutes of news daily or being on social media for a limited time will help reduce the lingering sense of anxiety, stress, and anger. Furthermore, try not to watch the news or log into social media upon waking or before going to bed. If you are trying to avoid disturbing media clips, try reading the news instead of watching it. If coverage and social media trigger a response to think and behave negatively, then it is okay to find some reprieve and take a break from it all. Take a few days or a week to stop watching the news, and see if your symptoms subside. You can try the same thing by taking some time away from using social media.
Accept Your Feelings
Experiencing floods of emotions, including shock, anger, anxiety, or depression, is especially difficult when they are unexpected. However, these emotions are normal reactions to the loss of safety and security in the wake of a traumatic experience. Learning how to accept these feelings will allow you to feel what you feel. You can deal with painful emotions by:
- Allowing yourself time to heal and mourn any losses
- Build patience in this process
- Understand that recovery moves at your pace, and this is the pace you are currently functioning
- Don’t judge yourself and learn how to connect with uncomfortable emotions.
- Utilizing mindfulness or therapies such as CBT or DBT is excellent in helping you experience thoughts and feelings and work toward balancing your emotions.
Challenge Your Sense of Helplessness
Overcoming any challenge in life and recovery requires action. Implementing practices and activities that help distract you and move you toward healing can help you overcome any sense of hopelessness. Even seemingly small steps help make a big difference. For example, you might start by looking for volunteer opportunities. Donating to a charity or helping in a local community event can deliver stress-reducing pleasure and distract you from being too inside your head. If you cannot commit, it’s okay; simply being helpful with friends and family or saying “hello” to a stranger can deliver the same stress-reducing qualities.
Experiencing trauma could leave you feeling like you want to detach and isolate yourself from those that care about you. However, connecting with others is also a cornerstone for lasting recovery. You don’t need to talk about your traumatic events; comfort can come from just the feeling of connectedness with the ones you trust. Sharing interests and talking with others about movies, sports, or art helps remind you that you are not alone and that you are more than just your trauma.
Working to maintain and even expand your social network is also essential. Therefore, take advantage of local support groups or online meetings because you can never have enough good people on your side in times of need. Finally, always maintain consistent contact with your doctor or therapist if you need to talk through your emotions and don’t want to seek a friend or family right away. A therapist can lend you an unbiased ear and give you great coping mechanisms to help you manage your trauma.
If your feelings of anxiety, numbness, confusion, guilt, or anger that follow a traumatic experience are not responding or subsiding despite efforts, then it is time to seek professional help. At Choice House, we offer men the opportunity to work on themselves and their relationships to attain the tools they need to cope with substance use and mental health disorders, including trauma. Our treatment programs and therapies provide conventional and alternative methods to help individuals maintain their recovery in a real-world setting. We also offer 24/7 admissions, so there is never a wrong time to reach out with questions or concerns. Our success comes when you can find the motivation needed to get the life you deserve, and it all begins when you take the first step. Remember, your recovery always comes first, so start your adventure today and take that first step. To find out more, call Choice House today at (720) 577-4422.