Get the Support You Need After a Traumatic Event

Article | October 2018

Get the Support You Need After a Traumatic Event

When a traumatic event occurs – a senseless act of violence or a powerful natural disaster – it can leave us feeling vulnerable and hopeless. It can trigger strong emotions, such as sorrow, anger, fear, and other deep feelings. We may carry these strong emotions with us as we go about our daily lives. Getting support can help you cope.

Feelings and reactions may vary. People directly impacted may struggle with very intense emotions. However, even those far removed may have unexpectedly strong reactions.

An initial sense of shock and disbelief may give way to a mix of emotions, such as fear, deep sadness, or anger. Many people find that they can’t stop thinking about the event or have trouble concentrating. Tears may come without warning. It’s not uncommon to have a physical response as well, such as an upset stomach, trembling, or a feeling of exhaustion.

Strong reactions pass fairly quickly for most people. They may last longer or stop and come back for others. Remember, these are normal reactions. They do not suggest mental or physical health problems. They are the way that our bodies and minds cope with a difficult event.

The distress can linger. Even if you were not directly impacted, it can take time to adjust. There is no right or wrong way to feel, nor is there one right or wrong way to feel better. Some people need the comfort of returning to a routine. Others prefer taking time away from their normal duties. Give yourself the time you need.

As you work through it, allow yourself to feel sad, to cry, and grieve if you need to. Remind yourself that your feelings are normal. Also give yourself permission to feel good or happy. Reach out and spend time with supportive people. It may be helpful to talk about what has happened and your feelings. Nurture yourself by focusing on getting enough sleep and eating well-balanced meals. Physical activity can be one of the best ways to ease some of the emotional stress.

Cigna Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has resources on the effects of traumatic events and websites that can be of help to you. Links to these resources are below. An EAP can also provide professional help and connect you with resources for support in your community. It’s especially important to seek help if your reaction continues long-term or become overwhelming.

For employees and managers

Cigna EAP is here to support you and your household members. We are available by phone 24/7.

Your HR representative can provide you with your company’s toll-free EAP number.

This material is provided by Cigna for informational/educational purposes only. It is not medical/clinical advice.