Any traumatic event—from a personal tragedy to a global crisis like a pandemic—can take an emotional toll and cause a traumatic stress response. But there are ways to regain control of your life. It’s normal to experience traumatic stress following a disturbing event, whether it’s a global health pandemic, a traffic accident, plane crash, violent crime, terrorist attack, or a natural disaster like an earthquake, hurricane, or flood. It can also be more subtle like experiencing years of emotional abuse or living with depression, anxiety or addiction. Trauma is not the event its what happens to your nervous system in response to any event which may feel threatening. You may experience intense shock, confusion, and fear, or feel numb or overwhelmed by a host of conflicting emotions, sometimes all at once. And these emotions aren’t limited to the people who experienced the event. Round-the-clock news and social media coverage means that we’re all bombarded with horrific images of tragedy, suffering, and loss almost the instant they occur anywhere in the world. Repeated exposure can overwhelm your nervous system and create traumatic stress just as if you experienced the event firsthand.
Traumatic stress can shatter your sense of security, leaving you feeling helpless and vulnerable in a what can feel like a dangerous world. You may feel physically and emotionally drained, overcome with grief, or find it difficult to focus, sleep, or control your temper. These are all normal responses to abnormal events.
Often, the unsettling thoughts and feelings of traumatic stress—as well as any unpleasant physical symptoms—start to fade as life gradually returns to normal over the days or weeks following a catastrophic event or crisis. But there’s also a lot you can do to assist in your recovery and better come to terms with the trauma you’ve experienced. Whether you lived through the event itself, witnessed it, were an emergency responder or medical worker, or experienced traumatic stress in the aftermath, there are plenty of ways to calm your nervous system and regain your emotional balance.
Somatic Experiencing can help you regulate your nervous system and gently bring you back to a place inside your body that feels calm. Through working with the nervous system and tracking the sensations in our body we can literally re-write the traumatic response and find a way to heal from the inside out.