People often experience shock and disbelief after a traumatic event and may find it difficult to accept the reality of what is happening. Examples of traumatic events include any kind of violence whether communal, domestic, partnership, political or military, natural or industrial disaster, terrorism, serious illness, violent assault, and other crimes, or the unexpected death of a loved one.
Tragic events can cause a range of intense physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms.
When the initial shock subsides, normal emotional responses in the following hours and days may include:
- Fear and anxiety. These emotions can come in waves, at unpredictable times.
- Sadness and depression.
- Guilt, shame or despair.
- Anger and irritability.
- Emotional numbness and feelings of separation from others.
Physical reactions are the result of stress hormones flooding the nervous system. Common physical symptoms include:
- Difficulty falling asleep.
- Headache, abdominal pain, or other physical pain.
- Heart racing.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- Change of appetite.
How you can help yourself
- Take care of yourself first.
- Eat healthy foods, get enough rest, and exercise regularly. Physical activity can reduce anxiety and promote well-being.
- Talk to people you trust about your concerns. A supportive network is important for emotional health.
- Take time for hobbies and fun activities or find interesting volunteer activities. This can be a healthy distraction from everyday stress.
- Limit your exposure to disruptive TV, radio, and social media coverage.
- Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation.
EAP can help you recover from many different problems, get back on your feet and find new ways to enrich your life. Read the below resources.
- Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event
- Helping Children Manage Emotions and Reactions after Mass Violence
- How to Cope After a Traumatic Event
- Grief: how to help yourself and others through the grieving process
- Living with Threats of Violence
- Managing Emotions and Reactions After Mass Violence
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