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Coping with Stress created by Change, Loss or Trauma
Sometimes in life we experience difficulties brought on by change or a traumatic event. This may relate to work or home. We sometimes experience stress as a result of events, such as: relationship breakdown, bereavement, the loss of health, (of self or another), caring for a loved
one/relative, changes at home or work pressures. Your experience is a very personal one. Below are a varied group of reactions you, or others, may experience during and after the change, stressful event, or trauma has passed.
Normal feelings and emotions experienced
- of damage to oneself and those we love
- of being left alone, of having to leave loved ones
- of breaking down or losing control
- of a similar event happening again
- crises show up human powerlessness,
- as well as strength
- for deaths, injuries and losses of every kind
- for all that has gone
- for being better off than others, (being alive, not injured, having things)
- for having been exposed as helpless, emotional and needing others, for not having reacted as one would have wished.
- at what has happened, at whoever caused it or allowed it to happen
- at the injustice and senselessness of it all
- at the shame of indignities
- at the lack of proper understanding by others, the
- disappointments that alternate with hope
- for bereavement – their deaths were sudden, violent or occurred in horrifying circumstances or the situation experienced came as a shock – no warning of the situation coming.
Physical and mental sensations
Nature heals through allowing these feelings to come out. This will not lead to loss of control of the mind, but stopping these feelings may lead to nervous and physical problems. Crying gives relief.
You may feel bodily sensations with or without the feelings described. Sometimes they are due to the crisis, even if they develop many months after the event. Some common sensations are tiredness, sleeplessness, bad dreams, fuzziness of the mind including loss of memory and concentration, dizziness, palpitations, shakes, difficulty in breathing, choking in the throat and chest, nausea and diarrhea, muscular tension which may lead to pain (headaches, neck and
backaches, dragging in the womb, menstrual disorders, change in sexual interest).
Remember that pain of the wound leads to healing. You may even come out wiser and stronger.
Some do’s and don’ts
- DON’T bottle up feelings.
- DO express your emotions in a safe environment.
- DON’T avoid talking about what happened.
- DO take opportunity to review the experience within yourself and with others you trust.
- DO allow yourself to be part of a group of people who care. For a time it is normal to want to withdraw from people.
- DON’T expect the memories to go away immediately – the feelings may stay with you for a long time to come
- DON’T forget – if you have experienced bereavement that your children will experience similar feelings to yourself
- DO take time to sleep, rest, exercise and think and be with your close family and friends
- DO avoid alcohol – a good rule is to drink in moderation and don’t drink when you are sad
- DO try to keep your lives as normal as possible after the acute grief/stress, keep a gentle routine
- DO drive more carefully.
- DO be more careful around the home
Warning: Accidents are more common after severe stresses.
When to seek professional help
- a) if you feel you cannot handle intense feeling or body sensations
b) if you feel that your emotions are not falling into place over a period of time
c) if you feel chronic tension, confusion, emptiness or exhaustion
d) if you continue to have disturbing bodily sensations / symptoms
- If after 2-3 months you continue to feel numb and empty and do not have the appropriate feelings described. If you have to keep active in order not to feel If you continue to have nightmares and poor sleep.
- If you have no person or group with whom to share your emotions and you feel the need to do so
- If your relationships seem to be suffering badly or sexual problems develop
- If you have accidents
- If you continue to smoke, drink or take drugs to excess since the event
- If your work performance suffers
- If you note that those around you are particularly vulnerable or are not healing satisfactorily
- If as a helper you are suffering exhaustion
DO REMEMBER that there is light at the end of the tunnel
DO REMEMBER that if you suffer too much too long help is available
The Counselling Service offer: One to One Psychotherapy/Counselling
(six sessions of One to One / 50 minutes a session)
Why do people have therapy?
People seek psychotherapy to help them resolve emotional, psychological and relationship issues. They might be experiencing difficult and distressing events in their lives, such as bereavement, divorce, health issues, and anxiety/stress or job concerns.
What happens in therapy?
Therapy may involve talking about life events, feelings, emotions, relationships, and ways of
thinking and patterns of behavior. The therapist will listen, encourage and empathise, but will also challenge to help the client to see their issues more clearly or in a different way. Therapy is not about giving advice or opinions, nor is it a friendly chat with a friend. The therapist helps the client to understand themselves better and find solutions to resolve or cope with their situation.
For more information on the staff counselling service visit our intranet.