During a traumatic event, your body taps into its survival instincts, and each of the five senses kicks into a hyper mode of intake. There is nothing you can do about how an event unfolds, and that loss of control is the worst part of a traumatic response. Good news, though; control can be regained by allowing yourself to create a “new normal.” It is a difficult task but certainly possible.
This time and transition can result in many overwhelming, convoluted, and undesirable emotions and feelings. This is completely normal under the circumstances. Although whatever caused the trauma may have stopped, your feelings went into a state of “hyperarousal,” which caused each of the five senses to flood the mind with an overload of information. At this point, the mind and emotions are way out of sync, and the amount of time it takes for them to slow down typically varies from twenty-four to seventy-two hours.
While things may feel crazy, you are not going crazy. If you’ve never experienced trauma, your brain is now creating a new file and labeling it “trauma,” so there will be some shock and disequilibrium during this time of transition. On the other hand, if previous care was not given to pre-existing trauma, the concurrent trauma may cause you to have a more dramatic reaction.
Everyone is different, but some generalities take place under traumatic circumstances. Disruption of sleep is one of those common reactions. Under smooth circumstances, the body functions best when it gets four 90-minute sleep cycles. To get that kind of rest, it takes planning. Try counting back four to five cycles from when you plan to wake. For example, if you have to wake up at 7 a.m., it’s best to get to bed no later than midnight or 1 a.m. This helps determine a good bedtime. It is also common to experience sleep deprivation in the aftermath of a tragedy, so take steps to relax with a hot shower or bath before going to bed. It will ease your muscles and soothe the tension you may feel.
I know it can be a broken record, but it’s serious: take care of basic nutritional needs. It is common to forget to or not feel like eating. Limit processed carbs, and eat plenty of fruits, veggies, and food high in antioxidants. Drink lots of water, as hydration is easily neglected when the mind is dealing with ruminating thoughts, feelings and emotions. Know that this is normal under the circumstances, but have someone remind you to eat and drink more often than anything else. You must flush out the toxins that were released in your body when the trauma unfolded.
It is common to want to return to the way things were before the event, but going back is impossible. However, it IS possible to come to grips with making a vital health decision, which is necessary to move toward wellness and away from the tragedy.
Give yourself permission to cry. Tears are a healthy way for your body to decompress and release endorphins, dopamine, and other feel-good or “happy hormones and enzymes,” making the body feel better through detox. The benefit of crying is that you do feel relief, and it is a decision to let your body do what it is meant to do in order to heal itself. Holding back, stuffing feelings, or suppressing emotions will only delay the progress of developing a new and healthy normal.
Be an advocate for your “new normal.” It can be stronger and better because of who you allow yourself to become as you press ahead, making a difference in light of the tragedy. There is hope, so choose not only to live but to thrive!
©2016 Veronica Sites