Trauma. What is it and how can it affect me?

Trauma is only seen in war veterans, people who have experienced war or other extreme life events. ” 


Trauma can affect anyone, at any stage of life and is not limited to extreme life events. 

Within our lifetime we will all experience highs and lows. When we experience these lows, or difficult life events it is normal to struggle with how we might feel. And then, most of the time life moves on and things resume to how they were before.  

But sometimes, when we experience something that has caused us great distress or other intense emotions, particularly those that make us feel helpless, terrified, or unable to cope; this can have a significant effect on our wellbeing. This is called Trauma. 

Causes of Trauma are often listed as specific life events that we might experience such as a bereavement, relationship breakdowns or witnessing something bad happen.  

And while these life events can all trigger trauma, this is not always helpful as Trauma is an individual experience. What may trigger trauma for one person wouldn’t for another. The event, cause or ‘trigger’ itself is not necessarily the priority, it is often how experiencing the event itself, made us feel.  

This might be a one off event, a series of events or can be the result of things that build up over time. The event does not need to be extreme, it could be a small thing that has had a big impact on how you think, feel or act. Even if this ‘small’ thing is insignificant to others, this could be a traumatic event for you. Trauma is personal and no one’s trauma is more or less valid than another. Nobody has the right to tell you what you have experienced does not count as trauma.  

So why is it important? 

Trauma can have a big impact on how we think, feel or act. Science proves that when we experience a traumatic event, this can cause changes to some of the functions within our brain that not only has an impact on our emotions, bodily sensations and memory but also alters our ability to ‘make sense’ of the situation or event. The area of our brain responsible for putting feelings into words goes ‘offline’ and this is why it can be difficult for us to make sense of the feelings we might be experiencing.  

Over time this can lead us to feeling isolated with our experience and our feelings. This in turn can then affect us being able to do our usual day to day activities or even activities we enjoy doing which can have a big impact on our overall wellbeing. 

What will help?  

Top 5 Trauma ‘First Aid: Immediate Response’ Tips: 

  1. First of all it is important to be kind to yourself. You have had a difficult experience, allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling without judgement or guilt.  
  1. Give yourself time to heal and mourn any loss you have experienced. In the early days take time to seek out things that help you to feel safe and secure. Explore grounding techniques and anxiety strategies such as breathing or relaxation techniques that can address some of the physical sensations. 
  1. Be prepared for difficult and intense emotions that feel uncomfortable. Remind yourself that trauma is personal. There is no right or wrong way to feel after a traumatic event. People react in different ways so don’t tell yourself (or let others tell you) there is a right way to feel or think. 
  1. Try not to ignore your feelings. It may seem better in the moment to ignore or not pay attention to feelings you are experiencing, but they continue to exist whether you are paying attention to them or not. Even the most intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel what you feel. 
  1. Take Positive action. Taking action towards healing or recovery is positive. To start, exercise might not be the first thing on your mind but this can have a big impact on the effects happening in your body. This can help to use up any extra hormones your brain may be producing in response to trauma. Take a walk, dance to your favourite music, try online yoga or pick something to do each day that practices self care. Whatever takes your interest! Taking positive action will give you a focus, help you to feel in control and reduce physical effects and sensations in your body. 

And lastly, it was not your fault. When you are ready to, reach out for support. 


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