Coping with Trauma 

The emotions we experience after a traumatic event can be intense, impactful, and unrelenting. Anger, sadness, fear, fury, and outrage can affect the way we live, love, work, sleep, and function. It is common to experience strong emotions that often leave us feeling powerless, but there are steps that we can take to move from helpless to empowered and healing.  

First, acknowledging the feelings you’re having, and the depths of these emotions can be useful. Identifying and understanding the feelings that you are experiencing can give you a starting point for taking care of yourself. To work through our feelings, it helps to figure out what reactions are happening. 

Giving yourself care and enlisting support can be ways to manage those intense feelings which often emerge when we’ve experienced trauma. Doing things that bring you peace, relaxation, or support your (mental and physical) health can make a big impact. This includes healthy habits, routines, and doing the things that ground us to what is real and what is meaningful in our lives.  
 

Next, be ready to talk about it. Sharing your feelings with loved ones, listening and offering support, and allowing others to hear about your pain can be immensely helpful as we work through trauma. If you find that talking to loved ones and friends isn’t enough to help you to offload all the reactions that you’re experiencing, speaking with a qualified mental health provider can be a way to manage trauma before it robs you of your ability to function and grieve. Children and adolescents require their own types of age and developmentally-appropriate support after traumatic events. Be ready to have tough conversations that allow kids to know how to acknowledge (not minimize) their concerns, and to seek support for their fears.   
 

To increase your sense of agency after a traumatic event, it’s helpful to find your power. Whether you seek to advocate, donate, serve, or help in some other way, channeling tough emotions into action can be a way to feel empowered as part of the solution.  

After a traumatic event, extreme emotions are natural. Notice, identify and respond lovingly to yourself to find a way through your suffering and pain, and to help others to do the same. 

 

 

Additional Resources 

 

Coping with mass shootings, understanding gun violence