Trauma and Resilience

People experience all kinds of hardships throughout their life. They can be personal, such as illness, loss of a loved one, abuse, job loss, and financial vulnerability. Then, on another level are the events that happen to us as a society, such as Covid-19, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, wildfires, extreme weather, and racial injustices.  We need to learn resilience in order to cope with these challenges that we face every day. 

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Trauma is the prolonged feeling of fear or stress due to an upsetting, dangerous and/or violent event.  Trauma can be a temporary reaction or prolonged condition such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  These feelings are not a sign of weakness and you should pay attention to them if you are experiencing them.  

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”

Maya Angelou

Symptoms of trauma:

  • Stress, anxiety, or fear of reoccurrence of traumatic event
  • Flashbacks in response to reminders of the event
  • Trouble focusing or thinking clearly
  • Nightmares
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Feelings of sadness or loneliness
  • Fatigue, sweating, and/or shaking

Resilience is needed when trying to get over a traumatic event, which is what we are all dealing with in this pandemic. Resilience is defined as the ability to overcome life’s difficult events.  Unfortunately at this time in our world, we are all being tested in our resilience daily.  We are not only faced with our own personal challenges, but with national and global challenges as well.

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Having resilience to overcome trauma can be compared to climbing up an icy glacier.  We will make progress toward the top and every once in a while slip back down a few steps.  It may feel like two steps forward and one step back. Persevere and you will make it to the summit.  

Ways to develop resilience and overcome trauma:

  • Talk about the traumatic event – don’t try and deal with it on your own.
  • Write about it in a journal or use art to express your feelings.
  • Be patient with yourself – make sure you set realistic, attainable goals
  • Do activities that you find relaxing, such as taking a walk or reading a book
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“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” 

Nelson Mandela

Learning resilience is possible.  You can learn to be adaptable and persevere in the face of trauma.  You can learn to control your thoughts and actions to be healthy responses to your feelings. Believe in yourself and you will feel the difference in your life.  

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