Each of us has different ways of coping with a traumatic event. It is impossible to predict how you, your loved ones, and others may react. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to feel.
Common feelings after a traumatic event include:
- Shock because you can’t believe that what happened is real.
- Helplessness because you are unable to change the outcome.
- Sadness about the event and compassion for affected individuals, families, and loved ones.
- Anger over the event and its impact on your own and the community’s sense of safety.
- Anxiety because you feel unsafe or because of lingering questions that may never have answers.
- Confusion about the feelings that you may be experiencing, especially when they seem to come in waves.
- Physical symptoms such as dry mouth, dehydration, or an inability to think clearly or process information.
- Grief, both because of this event, and because it may trigger difficult memories.
- Fear that the event or something like it could happen again.
Self-care steps include:
- Seek out support from friends, family, and other helpful resources. Let people know what is helpful and what is not.
- Avoid gossip. Check facts and avoid spreading rumors or reacting to misinformation.
- Recognize that there may never be answers to some of the questions you and others may have.
- Reflect on what has helped you cope with difficult situations in the past. Consider what strategies may be helpful now.
- Engage in healthy sleep, diet, and exercise routines. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
- Avoid impulsive or destructive behaviors, such as drug use or excessive drinking or eating.
- Limit your exposure to media (including social media) while the event is in the news. Keep in mind that more news may appear later, and that it could lead to additional traumatic reactions.
- Engage in meaningful activities. Replenish your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual energy.
- Use mindfulness techniques such as meditation, practicing gratitude, or writing in a journal.
- Be patient. Give yourself and others space to heal. Remember, rebuilding resiliency takes time.