Photo by MART PRODUCTION
People deal with traumatic experiences differently. But some of these means may be more distressing than comforting.
Everyone is susceptible to traumatic experiences. From their earlier years, people may already be at risk of childhood abuse down to adulthood, where life can throw them the most unexpected accidents and disasters, leading to grief or loss. Trauma is unavoidable. The more people are exposed to the world, the more they will encounter something traumatic.
If one adds numbers behind this idea, an estimated 33% of the youth in the US alone are exposed to community violence, and 70% of adults have reported encountering traumatic experiences at least once in their lives. If you put it in a clearer perspective, at least 223.4 million people are keeping any traumatic memory. While this exposure to traumatic events won’t automatically lead to the development of disorders, with statistics showing that only about 6% of this figure matures to a disorder, this doesn’t mean trauma should be taken lightly.
Defining Traumatic Experiences
What’s considered traumatic varies significantly across people. Everyone has different pain tolerance and thresholds, so what one may deem traumatic isn’t for another. Due to this, it’s better to tread sensitively with defining what traumatic experiences are. Trauma happens when individuals are repeatedly exposed to circumstances that overwhelm them, causing them to respond with intense emotions or reactions. For some, these drive them to isolate.
These situations shatter people’s security, leaving them with dread, uncertainty, and vulnerability. Sure, traumatic experiences won’t always lead to disorders, but they can change people, not just physically, with the possible injuries they’ve received. Instead, these experiences can change people’s perception of life, emotionally draining them until they’re overcome with hopelessness and pessimism. Repairing these changes can take time. The good news is there are ways for people to decrease these chances and recover the emotional equilibrium traumatic experiences have taken away.
There’s no one-size-fits-all recovery path from trauma. But here are some positive and healthy ways to cope with it and avoid spiraling down the negativity drain.
Keep People Close
When people get flashbacks or get overwhelmed with the memories of their traumatic experiences, it’s easier for them to self-isolate. They may believe that seeking out when they’re not doing well can be troublesome to others. Hence, they turn away from calling for help. But as social beings, humans get and will feel better in the company of others. People must keep close contact with those they trust so they’d have someone to call when they’re not doing well. They would have someone to ensure they won’t do anything that will harm them.
This doesn’t even have to be actual people. In fact, people can run to religion, and they’ll be guaranteed to have someone accompany them when times get rough. Like the author, Yelena’s life story after the 9/11 attack. Instead of suffering in a solitary manner, Yelena narrates how she turned to God to seek help and salvation from the trauma she’s gone through.
Develop Meditation Skills
Stress heightens people’s emotions and vulnerabilities. When exposed to traumatic experiences, stress will already be a permanent factor in people’s lives. To properly regulate it, breathing, meditation, and relaxation are crucial responses and practical coping skills for trauma. Unfortunately, only a few know the basics and believe in the benefits they provide.
However, it’s also essential to remember that by relaxing and easing into these methods, emotions, and thoughts will be brought to light. This can cause distress and panic attacks, but sitting and understanding these emotions is vital to recovery. If these attacks become too overwhelming and frightening, it may also be best to work under the guidance of professionals and therapists.
Concerning the previous point, self-monitoring may be a helpful way of handling stress and anxiety attacks. It’s a technique involving observing, recording, and embracing thoughts, sensations, and emotions one may encounter when reminded of one’s traumatic experiences. This is important because as people focus on habits and routines, they may neglect to allow these thoughts and expressions out. The lack of awareness about these will make emotions more unmanageable.
Self-monitoring also allows people more insight into what coping skills work by listening to their minds in their most vulnerable state.