It’s all about you: how to recover and thrive after witnessing a traumatic event

Anyone who witnesses a traumatic event – for example, a violent crime – will be susceptible to what is known as ‘trauma reaction’.

Experiencing a traumatic event can refer to a number of scenarios such as:

  • arriving at the scene of the event;
  • becoming involved in or witnessing the event as it happened;
  • experiencing a near miss where you nearly became involved in a traumatic event;
  • watching the event unfold in the media; or
  • having a close relationship with someone who was involved in the traumatic event (regardless of whether you were present or not).

Every scenario above is capable of inducing trauma reaction. How you deal with what follows is key to your ability to recover and thrive after the event.

The signs and signals

We all respond differently to trauma and just like any big event in life, you never really know how you’ll react until it takes place. Even then, you may not be aware of the way in which you’re responding.

There are some signs and signals that you’re body and mind are reacting to trauma:

  • you feel irritable or restless constantly and for seemingly no reason;
  • you’re crying or upset more than usual;
  • you have heightened levels of fear and anxiety in public places and find yourself constantly scanning your surroundings for potential danger;
  • you’re blaming yourself for the tragedy even though you weren’t the perpetrator; and
  • you feel isolated from others.

There are some physical signs, too, such as fatigue, regular headaches and nausea.

Remember – these responses are entirely normal; they are simply the result of your body and mind trying to come to terms with what you’ve experienced.

At a time like this, it’s vital you surround yourself with people you love and allow yourself to feel and express any emotion that arrives.

If you need to speak to someone else, the team at Voice will become the close, knowledgeable confidant you need at this time.

Caring for yourself

Even with great support from your family and the Voice team, it’s still vital that you invest in self-care.

This starts with the process of reminding yourself continually that your response is normal, but extends to giving yourself permission to do whatever it is you feel you require to look after your body and mind.

When you feel tired, rest; when you feel like running a thousand miles, head to the gym; if you feel sad, allow yourself to cry; if someone invites you to an event but you can’t face it, don’t go.

Think about all the stuff that makes you feel good and that’s good for your soul. That could be long baths, reading, delving into that boxset you’ve been putting off or simply spending time with your mates – whatever it is, indulge in it.

Do everything to protect and care for yourself, because this really is all about you.

Treading the path towards recovery

The best thing you can do for yourself at this difficult time is to take everything slowly; don’t let anyone rush you or force yourself to make big life decisions at this time.

Recovering from trauma can take some time, but it’s a process. You’ll likely hit rough patches that are sandwiched by times of positivity, and the days you wake up feeling relatively normal might be counterbalanced by mornings where you seemingly can’t banish certain thoughts from your mind.

However, follow the tips above, and you’ll kickstart the recovery process. What’s more, you’ll proactively lead yourself to a future where you can thrive.

The key thing is, if you feel you need a little help, reach out. That’s exactly what we’re here for.

If this blog post has resonated with you and you’d like to talk to someone who will listen, empathise and provide genuine advice that has your best interests at heart, speak to Voice today.

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