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After a difficult incident, you may experience some stress reactions. This current state of being does not indicate any form of permanency, and as time passes, the likelihood is that you will eventually begin to feel better, as the intensity of the reactions decrease accordingly with the integration of the experience.

Even when we witness or we are the cause of a situation or an incident , it is still justified to have adverse reactions and need help. The same applies if we are not in physical proximity to the actual critical incident.

From a person-centered point of view, a person's upset, distress or trauma is always entirely valid.

Those stress reactions may include:

Psychological reactions

  • Reduced concentration and memory

  • Intrusive thoughts about the event

  • Nightmares

  • Repeatedly playing parts of the event over in the mind

  • Confusion or disorientation

Emotional reactions

  • Fear, anxiety, panic

  • Shock; difficulty believing what has happened, feeling detached and confused

  • Feeling numb

  • Unwillingness to connect with others

  • Withdrawal from those around them

  • Continuing alarm: feeling like the danger is still there or the event is continuing

  • Feeling let–down: after the crisis is over, exhaustion may become obvious

Physical reactions

  • Fatigue or exhaustion

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Nausea, vomiting and dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Excessive sweating

  • Increased heart rate

Behavioral reactions

  • Avoiding reminders of the event

  • Inability to stop focusing on what occurred

  • Getting immersed in recovery-related tasks

  • Losing touch with normal daily routines

  • Changed appetite, such as eating a lot more or a lot less

  • Turning to substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and coffee


Some self-care:

  • Recognize that you have been through a distressing or frightening experience and that you may therefore experience reactions to it

  • Accept that you may not feel your normal self for a period, but that it will eventually pass

    • Sometimes we need some kind of help method to accelerate this process.

  • Avoid overuse of alcohol or drugs to help you cope.

  • Avoid making major decisions or big lif changes until you feel better.

  • Confront what has happened; don’t try to block it

    • Instead of telling yourself Stop thinking about it, say ‘I acknowledge that I think about….or that I feel….’

  • Avoid bottling up your feelings; talk to someone who can support and understand you.

    • find a private space and talk out loud, scream, hit a pillow, write and read it out loud, etc.

  • In time, try to keep to your normal routine.

  • Try not to go out of your way to avoid certain places or activities

  • When you feel exhausted, make sure you set aside time to rest.

  • Make time for regular exercise. It helps your body and mind.

  • Help your family and friends to help you by telling them what you need, such as time out or someone to talk to.

  • Use relaxation techniques such as yoga, breathing or meditation, or do things you enjoy, such as listening to music or gardening.

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