Here are some things you can do after experiencing a traumatic event:
Give yourself time
It can take time to recover from a traumatic event. It might take a while for you to accept what has happened or to learn to live with it. If someone has died or you have lost something significant to you, you may also need to grieve. Try not to put pressure on yourself to feel better straight away.
Talk about the event
After a traumatic event you might want to avoid things that remind you of the event, and avoid talking about what happened. However, research has shown that talking about the event and your feelings can help you to be more resilient. Avoiding memories and feelings has been shown to make people feel worse.
Speak to others that have experienced the same thing as you
It might help you to speak to other people who experienced the same traumatic event as you, or who have had similar experiences. However, people recover and react to the same events in different ways. Try not to compare your own recovery to someone else’s. If you feel able to support others who have been affected by the event, then that can be helpful too.
Ask for support
Seeking support from friends, family or other people that you trust can help you to cope better after a traumatic event. As well as offering emotional support, they might be able to help you with practical tasks, or just spend time with you doing ‘normal’ things.
Avoid spending lots of time alone
Being around other people has been shown to make you less likely to experience poor mental health after a traumatic event. While this might not be possible, if you live alone you might want to see if you can move in with family or a close friend after a traumatic event. If this isn’t possible, try to spend more time with people close to you, or stay in contact with them over the phone or through video calls.
Stick to your routine
Try to keep to the routine you had before the traumatic event as much as you can, even if that feels difficult. After the event you might find that your eating and exercise habits change, and that you find it hard to sleep. Try to eat and exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Take a look at our resource on sleeping well for more information.
Consider seeking professional help
Some people can find it helpful to speak to their GP if they are struggling. Generally, it is not helpful to seek professional mental health support in the first month after a traumatic event, unless your GP recommends this because your symptoms are so severe.
Notice how you’re feeling
For the first few months following a traumatic event, you might want to pay attention to how you are feeling over time. If you don’t feel like you are getting better, or if you start to feel worse, you should speak to your GP.
After a traumatic event, people are more likely to have accidents. Be careful around the home and when you are driving. Try not to use alcohol or illegal drugs following a traumatic event as a way to cope. While they can make you feel better in the short term, they won’t help your recovery in the long term.
Avoid consuming too much media about the event
After experiencing a traumatic event, it can be tempting to watch or read lots of things about it on social media or in the news. This is especially the case for higher profile events like terrorist attacks or natural disasters. However, it is best to avoid watching, listening to or reading lots of media related to the event, especially if when you do so it causes you distress.
Credit to Royal College of Psychiatrists.