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Traumatic events can leave us feeling vulnerable and hopeless. Events like a senseless act of violence or a powerful natural disaster can trigger strong emotions, such as sadness, anger, or fear. You might have these feelings even if you weren't directly affected by the incident. And you may carry strong emotions with you as you go about your daily life. Getting support can help you cope.
How Do We React to Trauma?
There's a wide range of "normal" when you're dealing with trauma:
- Feelings and reactions may vary. People who are directly impacted may struggle with very intense emotions. However, even if you're far removed from the event, you might be surprised by how strongly you react.
- Your reaction may be very strong at first. 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 common to have a physical response as well. You might have an upset stomach, trembling, or a feeling of exhaustion.
- Strong reactions pass fairly quickly for most people. But they may last longer or come and go for others. This is normal, and it doesn't mean you have a mental or physical health problem. This is the way our bodies and minds cope with a difficult event.
- The distress can linger. Even if you weren't directly impacted, it can take time to adjust. There is no right or wrong way to feel, and there's no right or wrong way to feel better. Some people need the comfort of returning to a routine. Others prefer to take time away from their normal duties. Give yourself the time you need.
- Let yourself feel. Allow yourself to feel sad, to cry and grieve if you need to. Remind yourself that your feelings are normal. And give yourself permission to feel good or happy. Reach out and spend time with supportive people. It may be helpful to talk about what happened and how you feel about it. Nurture yourself by focusing on getting enough sleep and eating well-balanced meals. Physical activity can be one of the best ways to ease your emotional stress.
We Can Help
Real support for real life. If you have coverage through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), we are available by phone 24/7 to help you understand what services are available to support you during this time. It’s especially important to seek help if your reaction continues long-term or becomes overwhelming.
We are available by phone 24/7. If you get your insurance through your employer, your HR representative can provide you with your company’s toll-free EAP number. If you purchase your own health insurance, you can call the number on the back of your ID card.
Call these numbers for immediate assistance in a disaster