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Posts Tagged ‘life disruptions’

COVID-19 is the largest global disruption since World War II.  Sudden illness, disability, death, financial insecurity, virtual graduations and postponed weddings are all traumatic events that some have experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trauma is experienced in many forms. Personal tragedy, violent crime, job loss, bullying, abuse, divorce, and natural disasters are just a few examples of trauma. Any traumatic event can take an emotional toll on an individual with the feelings of shock, confusion and fear it may bring. In addition, continuous news coverage and social media provide constant images of tragedy, suffering and loss. This repeated exposure may create traumatic stress for many individuals who did not experience the trauma themselves.

People respond to trauma in various ways.  Many show resilience while others are affected with a loss of security leaving them vulnerable.  Often, the response is physically and emotionally draining.  Many are overcome with grief and struggle to focus, sleep or control anger. 

Here are tips to help overcome trauma and begin the recovery process:

  1. Speak up.  Many have difficulty talking about trauma.  Consider reaching out to a trusted friend, family member, someone from your church or anyone you are close to and trust.  Start slowly.  Not all details of the trauma need to be shared. 
  • Do not blame yourself.  Self-blame is a common effect of trauma.  Work to accept that most traumas are out of your control.
  • Avoid obsessively reliving the traumatic event. Engage in activities that keep your mind occupied. You might choose to read, watch a movie, cook or take a walk in nature.
  • Reestablish routine. There is comfort in the familiar. After a disaster, getting back to a routine that includes normal eating, sleeping and exercising habits will help you minimize traumatic stress and anxiety.
  • Get connected.  Look for a support group in your area.  Often these groups meet weekly and discuss coping strategies and ways to become resilient.
  • Put major life decisions on hold. Making big life decisions about home, work, or family while traumatized will only increase the stress in your life. If possible, try to wait until life has settled down, you have regained your emotional balance, and you are better able to think clearly.
  • Eat well.  Choose a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality protein, and healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids which can help you better cope with the ups and downs that follow a tragic event.
  • Limit your media exposure to the traumatic event. Do not watch the news or check social media just before bed, and refrain from repeatedly viewing disturbing footage.

Learning healthy and effective coping skills can help you live a fuller life and manage symptoms you may be experiencing with trauma.  Start today living your best life.

Written by:  Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

National Institute of Mental Health (2020). Coping with Traumatic Events. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/coping-with-traumatic-events/index.shtml U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2019). Trauma and Violence. https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence

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chaos2We all experience chaos in our lives, some of us more so than others.  Examples include the car breaking down, refrigerator going on the fritz, accidently overdrawing your checking account, and receiving unexpected visitors.  The list goes on.

However, for the past five weeks I have been experiencing an abnormal amount of disorder in my life.  I sold my home six months ago and bought a new home a few months later.  I moved in right when the holidays were starting (moving + holiday stress), and had just started getting situated when the extreme cold weather moved in.  Just normal Ohio January weather, right?

Well, let’s just say that sometimes Mother Nature can be very vindictive.  It started with a water pipe bursting above my ceiling.  Water was running down the walls of my home onto my furniture, carpeting, and personal effects.  Then problems with the furnace and refrigerator followed.  Those issues led to almost daily phone calls and emails to resolve damage issues, and ultimately having to take lots of vacation time to get those problems resolved (or close to being resolved).

Situations that disrupt our lives – even positive occasions – can be stressful.  The major constant distressing factors in our lives include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Birth of a child
  • New job and loss of a job
  • Marriage and divorce
  • Major illness and caring for a sick family member
  • Moving

So how do we get through those times when it keeps raining, so to speak, and just won’t quit?

During this chaotic time my back seized up on me (stress related) and I was told to “keep moving.”  I also coped by getting a few back massages and did some “Yoga for Your Back.”   Prayer, remembering to breath in and out, exercise, and talking with others helped.

But what is really helping me get through this more-than-usual chaotic time is living one moment at a time, one hour at a time, and one day at a time.  You and I know that sometimes that is all we are able to do.

Written by:  Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County

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