Most likely, you have been impacted emotionally by all the crises of 2020 and these first few months of 2021. In fact, many suffer from trauma caused by the current chaos of the world, our nation, town, and our in own families. We’ve been thrown into impossible change and crises, such as financial, occupational, or others involving family and relationships due to a pandemic. We experience emotional chaos from violence and reaction to the violence on a national level. We engage in conflict with people who have been deemed “the enemy” because they disagree with you. The impact of these types of crises create trauma, which can elicit disordered emotional responses.
Our emotions become negatively triggered by distress from the dualistic and constant news consumption, isolation, changes in routine, the loss of loved ones, being quarantined for too long with family, the loss of former methods of entertainment, the loss of how life used to be, and the like. Nothing seems very stable and the old adage seems apropos; the only constant thing in life is change. All the change can cause trauma, which is any event or experience which alters how the brain perceives safety and belonging.
As a result, you may be experiencing grief, which happens during any transition in life or loss. Read more about grief in last week’s blog. Another aspect of grief called “disenfranchised grief” found prevalently in this past year’s turmoil. It refers to grief that goes unrecognized because others don’t validate it, particularly due to social norms. This kind of grief is often minimized or not understood by others, which makes it particularly hard for an individual to process.
Here are some ways you can process the trauma of last year:
- Identify and label your feelings. Recognize that grief is grief, no matter the magnitude. Any loss or transition involves grief in some degree. This will help validate the losses of the past year, instead of burying it all. Don’t wait for someone else to validate your grief. It may never come.
- Identify the stages of grief. Denial, Anger, Sadness, Acceptance, Guilt, and Transformation, to name a few.
- Identify the back and forth movement through these grief stages. Stages of grief are not linear.
- Seek meaningful relationship and empathy from others. BE PROACTIVE.
- Call or virtually connect with a friend. Meet with them in person, if possible.
- Find a therapist. It can be intimidating, but be persistent. Don’t allow the stigma of mental health create shame or fear. Get referrals. Try one out. If it’s not a good fit, try another. Be patient and care for yourself while working through the process. In today’s world, there may be a wait unfortunately!
- Don’t wait for someone to ask if you are okay.
- Don’t suffer alone or in silence.
- Turn your empathy outward. Volunteer. Serve others. Take action in your everyday life. It can make you feel invigorated instead of isolated.
- Take a break from news and social media. These platforms are designed to appeal to your amygdala. Engaging it ignites your downstairs brain (subconscious) and your survival instinct; fight, flight, or freeze. The survival instinct requires an emotional response, which in grief is typically hard to regulate.
- Participate in activities that stimulate your neocortex (upstairs brain). Find peace by stimulating your upstairs brain (conscious). Meditation, body scans, deep breathing, smiling, laughing, journaling, learning new skills, reading, prayer, exercise, healthy eating, and the like are all ways to strengthen your emotional response to trauma.
The world is a chaotic place right now. Take care of yourself. If we can help, Revitalist seeks to provide holistic approaches to whatever your emotional needs may be.