Most people go through challenging periods in their lives, but generally, one will land on their feet on the other side of it. Trauma, however, is another story.
Most people think of a traumatic experience as dealing with thoughts, sights, and events during wartime, accidents, or other unfortunate situations. Traumatic events can happen in any circumstance and to anyone. It may result in the same reactions you’d expect out of soldiers in combat, but it’s just on a smaller, less intense scale.
Awareness and accepting that you need help is half the battle. Let’s dig in so you can recognize the signs of trauma and find out how to manage trauma.
It often occurs when someone is overwhelmed by triggers from stressful events and memories. These sudden expressions of anger, sadness, fear, or other strong emotions can be a sign that further help is needed to process the trauma.
To manage an emotional outburst, it is important to remain calm and provide a safe environment for the person to express their feelings. Other tools that can be used to help manage emotional outbursts include:
- Establishing clear boundaries
- Understanding triggers
- Developing communication techniques
- Practicing self-care
It is important to remember that no one should face trauma alone and professional help should be sought if necessary.
Changes in Sleeping Patterns
Many survivors of trauma will experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Nightmares, waking up frequently, and insomnia are all commonly associated with traumatic experiences.
To manage these changes in sleeping patterns, it is important to prioritize going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Do this even if you can’t sleep. It is also helpful to keep a routine that involves calming activities such as:
Engage in calming activities an hour before bedtime and limit screen time. On nights that you are not sleeping well, try not to nap during the day to avoid a negative sleep cycle.
Getting plenty of physical activity during the day can help improve sleep issues, as can relaxation techniques before bed and natural supplements. Finally, if these measures don’t help, seek out professional help.
Increased Anxiety Levels
When we experience trauma, our prefrontal cortex goes into a state of hypervigilance, causing higher-than-normal levels of anxiety. This heightened sensitivity trip switch can take an extensive toll on our physical and psychological well-being.
To help manage anxiety levels, we should practice mindful stress reduction techniques like:
- Deep breathing
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Meditation and yoga
Seeking help from a mental health professional who can provide cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is also beneficial. This type of therapy provides coping skills to help manage our triggers and arousal levels.
Engaging in calming activities like nature walks, regular exercise, meditation, and journaling can also help in mental wellness.
Flashbacks or Nightmares
People who experience flashbacks or nightmares may benefit from cognitive and behavioral interventions, such as psychotherapy, relaxation techniques, and support groups.
Cognitive restructuring can help change the way an individual perceives and responds to a flashback or nightmare. It can also be beneficial to practice better sleep habits such as sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Also, voiding late-night screen time.
Avoid alcohol or caffeine right before bed. People experiencing flashbacks or nightmares should be encouraged to share memories. They should share difficult experiences in a safe and supportive environment.
Difficulty Starting and Finishing Tasks
Those affected by this symptom may find themselves feeling overwhelmed at the idea of starting work or overwhelmed with self-doubt. They can become easily distracted and lose track of time and can’t seem to stay focused on the task.
To manage this, it is important to recognize the feeling of being overwhelmed and develop coping mechanisms. Using different strategies can be useful. This includes:
- Breaking tasks into smaller chunks
- Developing a routine
- Minimizing distractions
- Setting achievable task
Seeking professional help can enable a person to manage the feelings of anxiety and panic stemming from trauma. It may be necessary to change the environment to feel safe, productive, and relaxed.
Low Self-Esteem & Social Withdrawal
Low self-esteem can manifest as feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and self-destructive thoughts, while social withdrawal tends to lead to feelings of isolation and disconnectedness from the world around them.
To better manage these signs of trauma, it’s important to focus on developing a safe and secure support system. Creating meaningful relationships and connections with loved ones is a great start.
It’s also important to pay attention to thoughts and behaviors that can contribute to a worsening sense of self. Find positive things to focus on. Recognizing one’s accomplishments can help boost morale.
Physical Symptoms of Pain or Discomfort
Those who experience trauma may be afraid of the sensations that follow, and as such, often ignore the warning signs and hope that the pain will go away.
However, to manage trauma most effectively, individuals must learn how to recognize and process the physical effects of it. Some possible physical symptoms to watch out for are:
- Problems sleeping
- Headaches, body tension
- Fatigue and digestive issues
- Increased heart rate
- Aches and pains
Managing trauma entails recognizing its origins, discussing them with a trusted friend or healthcare provider, engaging in mindfulness activities, developing healthy coping skills, and setting boundaries with those who may have caused the trauma.
Suicidal Thoughts or Actions
Any sort of suicidal thoughts or actions should be taken seriously. It can be a sign of deep pain and despair. To manage these symptoms of trauma, a person needs to receive professional support.
This could include therapy or counseling, medications, or even just having a close friend or family member for emotional support. In addition to suicidal thoughts or actions, there are also other common, hidden signs of trauma that someone might experience. This includes:
- Avoidance of people or activities
- Negative changes in problem-solving skills
- Self-harming behaviors
It is important to recognize and address these signs of trauma early on. It is best to explore mental health treatments to avoid further distress and to help promote better mental health in the long run.
Explore How to Manage the Hidden Signs of Trauma Starting Today
These signs of trauma affect many aspects of our lives. It’s important to be aware of the signs and to manage them effectively through self-care, seeking support, and professional help if necessary. Taking appropriate steps to minimize potential triggers.
If you think you or someone you know is struggling with trauma, urge that person to get help and support.
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