How to Recover From a Traumatic Experience

by | 17 Apr 2023

Emergencies can be stressful and traumatic experiences that can impact mental health, so it’s essential to manage mental health during and after an emergency. 

Over the years Bounce Readiness has been servicing Australian organisations who have gone through a variety of emergency and incident events. We have found that there are some tried and tested techniques to consider Here are some tips to help:

1. Practice Self-Care

Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly. 

One underrated activity to put you on the right track is walking.

Albert Einstein reportedly once said “I have found that if I move my body, I can move my mind”.

Walking can prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and type 2 diabetes. And studies have shown that walking can produce the same psychological effects as even the most seasoned meditator.

But perhaps most important of all, walking provides you the space and movement to help you better solve problems. When a traumatic experience now occupies most of your mind, a major task is to consider, evaluate, and action how you’ll overcome much of the impacts. With so many distractions around us, simply getting out into nature for a 30-minute walk will give your mind the space to think reasonably and overcome the mental impacts of a traumatic experience.

2. Stay connected with loved ones

Connect with your family and friends, and talk about how you feel. 

We are social creatures and regardless of our introverted or extroverted nature, we need human contact of some form.

Talking helps relieve stress, anxiety and it’s also essential to have support from those closest to you. Ensure you find people who are able to listen and not just respond. Building up trusted contacts like this can be an essential support network to work through a traumatic experience.

3. Seek Professional Help

According to a 2019 Guardian article that reviewed data sourced from the IHME’s Global Burden of Disease, “about 13% of the global population – some 971 million people – suffer from some kind of mental disorder”. 

Fast forward to today, the pandemic’s impact and similar global events and economic deterioration is causing what some are calling a ‘mental health epidemic’.

61% of those researched in a National Library of Medicine Report were classed as ‘lonely’ post-pandemic lockdown with similar studies suggesting males being a significant portion of this demographic.

These statistics can also be attributed to lower performance from our colleagues, and some organisations are recognising this as a crisis in and of itself. For example, cloud accounting software, Xero initiated a large employee mental support program which was so successful, they extended it to their subscribers.

It’s important to have these services available to your team or yourself prior to needing them. For sudden events, this can be part of your recovery and support actions.

4. Limit Media Exposure

It’s okay to stay informed, but too much exposure to media can lead to anxiety and panic. Publications make the majority of their revenue from views and clicks, and over a century, they have recognised that threatening headlines get the top clicks.

Setting boundaries and limiting your exposure to media (of any kind) can give you the space to reset and rethink. 

You can use apps online to help manage these, like Opal, who will block your apps at certain times of the day.

5. Stay Positive

Work hard on finding the positive or opportunities available to you. This can be difficult, particularly if the event you’ve just experienced has significant, permanent effects to you and those around you. 

Simply thinking more positively does not work for everyone. Often, physically acknowledging value and positives in your life can make the difference.

One effective way to do this includes journaling; specifically a gratitude journal. Studies suggest listing as few as five things you are grateful for in the evening (no matter how small and trivial) improves mental wellbeing, sleep, anxiety, depression, and even help with physical appearance. 

The ‘One line a day’ five year journal is a great starting point to help you think more positively.

6. Plan ahead

Work on building resilience long before an emergency happens to ensure that you’re better prepared to handle whatever comes your way.

This doesn’t mean subjecting yourself to crisis events, it means working on becoming an overall resilient person. Some people do this by training and competing in their first marathon. Others do it by subjecting themselves to challenging situations like a new study, or language.

No matter how small, these personal challenges build up your personal resilience which will be there to support you during a traumatic experience.

Remember that everyone reacts differently to emergencies, so it’s important to take care of yourself and seek help when necessary. By taking care of your mental health, you can better cope with the aftermath of an emergency and even come out stronger.

School Resilience Survey

This specific survey focuses on lessons learnt from incidents over the last 12 months, and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.