Trauma disrupts our sense of safety and stability; therefore, self-care strategies as they relate to traumatic events center on re-establishing a sense of safety. When we are fearful, worried or anxious, a cascade of stress hormones is released preparing us to fight or flee. In acute life-threatening situations, these hormones are imperative to our survival; however, prolonged states of “fight or flight” can have detrimental emotional and physical consequences.
Coping strategies that calm the central nervous system, such as deep-breathing, relaxation, mindfulness and grounding, are especially effective in stressful situations. There are some great mental health applications for mobile devices, including Calm, Head Space and NESTT, that can guide you through some of these activities. Other self-care strategies such as distraction, exercise, laughter and social connection are also effective at lifting the human spirit.
It is important to note that these strategies are additive. If you are feeling worried or panicked, try a coping strategy that helps to calm your body. Then add a second strategy and a third. If you can, try to schedule self-care into your daily routine a few times per day.