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Are you feeling exhausted, confused, anxious, agitated, or numb? And can’t seem to find a reason why? It could be your body’s reaction to traumatic stress. And identifying traumatic stress is important in addressing it.

What is traumatic stress? 
  • Traumatic stress is when an event happens that is overwhelming and usual coping skills don’t appear the be working.
  • Traumatic events can be events like a car accident, plane crash, loss of a loved one, or a pandemic.
  • Our bodies react physically, emotionally, behaviorally and/or cognitively.

People behave differently in situations, but traumatic stress stirs similar reactions in people.

What are the common reactions to traumatic stress? 
  • Emotionally: feeling too much or too little. Fear, sadness, anxiety and shame, or feeling numb and disconnected.
  • Physically: sleep problems, stomach or digestive issues, feeling dizzy, shaking, racing thoughts, fast heart beat, changes in appetite, and/or unexplained aches and pains.
  • Cognitively: feeling unsafe, inappropriate guilt, or intrusive thoughts.
  • Behaviorally: overeating, under-eating, using more substances such as alcohol, self-harm, or avoidance.

So knowing how to cope with traumatic stress can happen with simple reactions.

How to cope with traumatic stress
  • Learn what traumatic stress is and acknowledge what’s happening.
  • Reestablish a routine.
  • Put major decisions on hold.
  • Practice slow and steady breathing.
  • Exercise.
  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Limit your tv or social media consumption.
  • Make time for activities you enjoy.
  • Focus on quality nutrition and sleep.
  • Reach out for support.

But will it get better on it’s own?

Will things get better? 
  • As life begins to return to normal, these symptoms and reactions will begin to fade away. The coping tools, resilience, social support and our personality impact how we rebound from a traumatic event. And some will rebound quicker and some may take some time. But it’s important to acknowledge your progress.

And know when you reach out for support.

When to seek help? 
  • Reactions don’t seem to be getting better
  • Having difficulty at work or at home
  • Avoiding more things since the trauma
  • Feeling alone and having a hard time connecting with others
  • Experiencing nightmares or flashbacks
  • Experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Traumatic events shake your sense of security and safety. Experiencing trauma reactions listed above are normal reactions to abnormal events. Talking with a psychologist or Counsellor can help to process the traumatic event and regain balance back in your life. So, reach out to someone if you feel your balance needs some help.