It's the start of new year and already we have been faced with challenges. We would've hoped stepping into 2021 would be easier, but still the pandemic looms large and has affected many of us deeply. Mental trauma is often attributed to overwhelming and distressing events that people go through, this can be a one-off thing or something that happens again and again. But the pandemic has let us become witness to many people suffering across the globe, it could be argued that we've all been traumatised. A trauma exposure response can effect anyone at anytime and the thing nobody's really aware of is that trauma creeps. It's slow and draining and you might not even recognise it's happening to you.
Here are five points to look out for:
Do you find yourself constantly looking out for danger no matter the situation? Are even the most passive day-to-day moments fraught with peril? Does your mind feel like it can't switch off because it needs to be constantly afraid of something? This is because your subconscious is constantly anticipating danger even if there is none. It can be incredibly difficult to switch off from a state of high alert, but there are ways to bring it down to a more reasonable level.
Recognising what's happening can be very helpful, often the thoughts are so pervasive that you don't even realise you're having them. Try keeping a journal or talking to yourself in a calming manner with reassurance that you know thoughts cannot hurt you. Remember, your thoughts might not necessarily be true.
Exercise and HIT exercise can alleviate things, but also be aware that if the intensity is too high this can trigger more hypervigilance so go slowly and find what works best for you.
2. Anger & Cynicism
Anger isn't always bad and sometimes it can be very useful to help you move stuck emotions, but it's being able to realise when it's no longer helping you or anyone else. Easy enough on paper, but how do you put that into practice?
If you find yourself solving all of your situations through anger and are being more destructive with your words and your actions, or if you feel continually jaded about life and want to lash out at the world; then maybe it's time to give yourself a break. The renowned UK-based charity Mind has some great advice on recognising and dealing with anger. Finding someone to talk to can really help, no matter how well you think you've got it under control. Talking with friends or therapists can help you to realise there is much more that you're holding in. Anger is often the result of other much deeper emotions that are trying to surface.
3. Feeling Helpless & Hopeless
At times the world can feel too much. The continuous onslaught of news and social media, much of it angled toward negative and narcissistic values, can create a very bleak picture. One that is totally unrealistic, but if you're stuck in your house under lockdown like much of us, it's an easy distraction - and let's face it even if we're not in lockdown we're still looking! You feel helpless to change anything, but also there's no hope to be found anywhere. These two emotions slowly crush you into a deeper and deeper hole, each one reinforcing the other.
But there are ways out of this as well. We each are in control of our reality and sometimes our minds get too caught-up on one thing. Schedule breaks from the news and social media, and try to find things that give you joy instead. There are some great resources to help you. VeryWellMind has 9 steps to get you into a better place.
4. Numbing & Inability to Empathise
The year 2020 made many of us want bury our heads in the sand and then bury our bodies too. Protecting yourself is an important aspect of caring for your mental health, but try to notice when your protection becomes an impenetrable wall.
If you find yourself being flippant every time somebody mentions their feelings, or you're more concerned about which Netflix series to binge than yours and your friend's emotional needs, then you might be struggling with this issue. We agree, It is so much easier to sit in a dark room enveloped in fictitious worlds, but there's no real sustenance to these actions. Notice when comforting escapism is slipping into numbing. Helping others can help you feel deep connection and rewards that go beyond the material world.
5. A Sense That You Can Never Do Enough
Do you have a pervading sense that no matter how hard you try, you're not doing enough.You never reward yourself for accomplishments, large or small and feel inadequate about yourself in all manner of ways.
It's understandable to feel this way, we are bombarded daily with advertising that tells us we aren't enough and also the ridiculous notion that putting in long work hours is an achievement within itself. These things take a toll on us, slowly and imperceptibly, a global pandemic added more to the fire - many of us feel that we should be helping more but cannot because we don't work within healthcare.
The Tiny Buddha website has great tips if you're feeling this way.
We hope that this blog gave you some insight into the many ways we can be affected. If you are really struggling then please find someone you can talk to, or professional help through therapy or alternative therapies. These points orginated from the book Trauma Stewardship by Laura Van Dernoot which is very helpful in identifying how you maybe effected by Trauma. However you are suffering you are not alone💪🏻💪🏾