Best Advice to People Who Have Experienced Mental Trauma

What is Trauma?

Physical Trauma

Physical injuries that happen suddenly, severely, and need to be treated right away are referred to as traumatic injuries. Physical trauma can include fractures to the skull, collapsed lungs, traumatic brain damage, spinal cord injury, or other emergencies.

Mental or Psychological Trauma

A very upsetting or unsettling incident or encounter can cause psychological or emotional trauma. This can happen as a result of being sick or hurt, experiencing a natural disaster, losing a loved one, or being abused, to mention a few. Physical symptoms including perspiration, nausea, and headaches can also be reactions.

Mental Trauma Responses: Fight, Flight, Freeze, and Fawn:

People experience the fight, flight, freeze, and fawn reactions in response to stressful, traumatic, or hazardous events. The autonomic nervous system decides how to react to a stressor when an individual is under stress. How someone reacts in the end depends on a number of elements, such as personality, stressor type, and prior experiences.

Fight Trauma Response

When the fight reaction is triggered by threats, we react violently. Since our autonomic response system thinks we can’t defeat the enemy, this response is frequently the last one we try.

Signs and symptoms of a fight response include:

  • Hostility
  • Tension in the jaw or grinding teeth
  • Desire to stomp 
  • Attacking the threat
  • Feeling a burning sensation
  • Crying

Flight Trauma Response

When our brain believes that we may escape a threat by fleeing, the flight reaction takes place. For example, if someone kicks a soccer ball at you, you could automatically duck or step away. Your body reacts by quickening your heartbeat to get you ready to escape.

Signs and symptoms of a flight response include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Darting eyes
  • Fidgeting
  • Restlessness
  • Increased heart rate

Freeze Trauma Response

When there is no practical way out of a situation, we go into a freeze reaction, also known as tonic immobility, which makes us stiff, vigilant, and on guard. We feel frozen and uncontrollably immovable throughout this reaction. Our bodies and minds preserve resources until we see a potential window of opportunity for escape. According to research, those who exhibit greater anxiety-related features are more prone to become immobile in the face of danger.

Signs and symptoms of a freeze response include:

  • Feeling or heavy
  • Immobility
  • Heart rate fluctuations
  • Tunnel vision
  • Dissociation
  • Hypervigilance

Fawn Trauma Response

When someone tries to calm down a danger, it’s known as the fawn response (appeasement). For instance, despite having feelings of detest for the attacker, a person might give in to their desires or advances. This reaction can happen in coercive circumstances, following a sexual assault, or in abusive relationships (e.g., between a female and her boyfriend or a kid and their caretaker).

Signs and symptoms of a fawn response include:

  • Being overly helpful
  • Being agreeable
  • Submissive
  • Smiling/laughing
  • Flattery
  • Seeking approval
  • Dissociation

Dealing with Traumatic Stress:

Regaining your mental balance and starting again might take time, just as it frequently does after a traumatic incident when clearing debris and repairing damage. However, there are particular actions you can do to support your loved ones or yourself in overcoming the psychological fallout from trauma and finding a means to go on with your life.

A Trauma-Informed Care Approach for Mental Trauma

Trauma-informed care aims to comprehend the full person requesting assistance. An individual’s sense of self, their perception of other people, and their worldview are all impacted by trauma. An individual’s capacity or motivation to engage with and make use of support services may be directly impacted by these beliefs. Using a Trauma-Informed Care approach, a system changes rules, procedures, and practices to eliminate possible obstacles after realising the direct impact trauma can have on access to services. 

The Five Guiding Principles are:

  • Safety
    Ensures the physical safety of the individual
  • Choice
    Gives individual choice and control
  • Collaboration
    Makes decisions with the individual 
  • Trustworthiness
    Clarify Tasks, ensure consistency and set interpersonal boundaries
  • Empowerment. 
    Prioritising empowerment and skill building

These 5 phases ensure that the physical and emotional safety of an individual is addressed as it is the first and most important step in providing Trauma-Informed Care.

When to get help from a professional?

After a tragedy or traumatic incident, emotions such as worry, apathy, uncertainty, remorse, and sorrow usually start to pass quickly. However, you might require the assistance of a mental health professional if your traumatic stress reaction is so severe and chronic that it is interfering with your capacity to operate in daily life.

Warning signs of traumatic stress include:

  • Six weeks have passed, and you still don’t feel better about what happened. 
  • You’re struggling to get by both at work and at home.
  • You’re having nightmares, flashbacks, or horrible recollections.
  • You’re finding it harder and harder to relate to and connect with other people.
  • You’re having thoughts or sensations of suicide.
  • More and more items that bring up catastrophes or traumatic incidents are becoming avoided.

Coping with Mental Trauma

Tip 1: Accept your feelings

Shock, rage, remorse, and other difficult and unexpected feelings can all be brought on by traumatic stress. These feelings are typical responses to the loss that follows a tragedy in terms of safety and security, as well as life, limb, and property. Healing requires embracing these emotions and giving yourself permission to experience what you feel.

Dealing with painful emotions

  • Allow yourself enough time to recover and process any losses you may have had.
  • Avoid attempting to rush the healing process.
  • Be understanding of the recovery’s speed.
  • Be ready for challenging and erratic feelings.
  • Give yourself permission to experience whatever it is you’re experiencing, guilt-free.
  • Recognize and reconnect with difficult feelings without succumbing to them.

Tip 2: Challenge your sense of vulnerability

Taking initiative is frequently key to recovering from severe stress. You may overcome emotions of helplessness, anxiety, and hopelessness by taking positive action; even tiny steps can have a significant impact.

Give blood, donate to a favored organization, give your time freely, or console people. If official volunteering seems like too much of a commitment, keep in mind that just being kind and helpful to others might make you feel less stressed and less powerless. Offer a stranger your assistance while carrying in their groceries, smile at everyone you encounter during the day, and hold a door open for them.

Participate in memorials, events, and other public rituals, or establish connections with other individuals impacted by the terrible incident. The sense of hopelessness that frequently accompanies a catastrophe can be addressed by remembering the lives that were lost or damaged in the incident and by feeling connected to others.

Tip 3: Get moving

When you’re going through extreme stress, working out might be the last thing on your mind, yet it might help you feel better by burning off adrenaline and releasing feel-good endorphins. Engaging in attentive physical exercise can also help you get over the traumatic incident and awaken your nervous system from that “stuck” state.

Try doing a rhythmic workout that uses your arms and legs. It’s an excellent idea to go swimming, dancing, walking, or running etc.

By paying attention to how your body feels while you move, you may incorporate a mindful aspect. It can be simpler to be conscious and pay attention to your body motions when you do rock climbing, boxing, weight training, or martial arts—after all, you run the risk of hurting yourself if you don’t.

Increase your drive and vitality. Play your favorite music and get moving or dancing if you’re having trouble getting motivated or energizing yourself to work out. You’ll experience an increase in energy once you’re moving.

One longer session of exercise is not any more effective than shorter ones. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of activity each day, but if that’s not possible, three 10-minute workouts will still benefit you.

Tip 4: Make stress reduction a priority

While some stress is acceptable and even beneficial while coping with the difficulties that follow a catastrophic incident or tragedy, excessive stress will hinder healing.

Release tension as it arises. Just take 60 deep breaths, paying attention to each “out” breath, to instantly find your inner peace in any scenario. You can also employ sensory input by using one or more of your senses, such as taste, smell, touch, sound, sight, or movement. Do you feel at ease when you listen to upbeat music, for instance? or inhaling the aroma of ground coffee? Or if stroking an animal serves as a rapid fix for feeling grounded? Try a few different approaches to see what works best for you as each person has a somewhat different response to sensory information.

Use relaxation methods to lower stress, lessen anxiety and depression, and enhance your sleep, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.

Make time for the things that make you happy, such as a conversation with a close friend or your favorite activity or pleasure.

During your break, unwind. Take a bath, read a book, or watch a humorous or uplifting movie.

How to feel stabilized in the aftermath of mental trauma?

Try this easy practice when you’re feeling overwhelmed by traumatic stress:

  • With your feet flat on the floor and the chair supporting your back, take a seat.
  • Choose six items from your surroundings that are either red or blue. You ought to feel more rooted, in the moment, and in your body as a result.
  • Alternatively, you might want to head outside and choose a quiet spot where you can sit on the grass and feel the ground supporting you.

Tip 5: Eat and sleep well

Your mood and your capacity to handle severe stress might be affected by the food you consume. Traumatic stress symptoms might be exacerbated if a person consumes a diet high in processed and convenience foods, refined carbs, and sugary snacks. On the other hand, a diet abundant in fresh produce, lean protein, and good fats—particularly omega-3 fatty acids—can make it easier for you to handle the highs and lows that come with a traumatic incident.

You may create an eating plan that enhances your energy, attitude, and general sense of well-being in addition to relieving traumatic stress by substituting genuine food as closely to its natural condition for manufactured food.

Get quality sleep

Having gone through a distressing experience, you can have trouble falling asleep. You can experience sleepless nights or unsettling dreams due to worries and anxiety. After a calamity, getting enough sleep is crucial since inadequate sleep puts a lot of stress on your body and mind and makes it harder to keep your mental equilibrium. The tactics listed below can assist in enhancing your quality of sleep:

  • Adhere to a regular sleep and wake-up schedule every day.
  • Since alcohol interferes with sleep, avoid drinking it in the afternoon or evening.
  • Before going to bed, do something calming, like meditating, reading a book, or listening to calming music.
  • Make your bedroom as peaceful and silent as you can.
  • Exercise frequently, but avoid doing so right before bed.

Tip 6: Talk to someone

After a traumatic experience, you can feel tempted to cut yourself off from friends and social activities, but making in-person connections with other people is essential to healing. Hormones that reduce traumatic stress can be released just by having a face-to-face conversation with another person.

We at The Insight Clinic recognize that seeking help with bravery is the first step towards recovery. Our skilled group of therapists specializes in providing compassionate and knowledgeable guidance to people on their road toward trauma recovery. We offer a secure, accepting environment where you may examine your experiences, deal with your feelings, and create useful coping mechanisms. Make an appointment with us right now to start the process of regaining your well-being.

Take the first step towards a happier, healthier you by booking your online therapy session now. Our compassionate therapists are here to support you every step of the way.

Mental Trauma

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic

Getting Help at The Insight Clinic

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