Tips for Self-Care during Anniversary Reactions to a Traumatic Event
Some individuals experience reactions to traumatic events near or around the anniversary of those traumatic events. Although anniversary reactions can be upsetting, it is helpful to know that recovery takes time and requires rebuilding on many levels – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. With patience, understanding, and support from family, friends, and community members, individuals can emerge from trauma and disaster stronger than before. Some tips for coping with anniversary reactions to a traumatic event are listed below.
- Talk about it. While it may feel better to pretend event(s) did not happen, talking with a friend, family member, doctor, minister, or religious advisor help you realize that you are not alone in your feelings. Often, talking about your fears and feelings is enough to relieve stress and realize that other people share your feelings. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness
- Take care of yourself. Take good care of yourself in terms of rest, exercise and healthy eating. This helps your body deal with the stress you may be feeling.
- Engage in healthy activities. Do activities that you enjoy and find relaxing and that promote your health.
- Keep your routines. As much as possible, keep your daily routines. This helps you maintain a sense of control.
- Limit media viewing. Take breaks from watching or reading any related news coverage and media messages regarding the anniversary of the event. The visual images can prompt especially strong reactions. Instead, watch a movie or read a book.
- Don’t compare yourself to how others around you are dealing with the anniversary of the event. Everyone experiences and copes with stress differently. Remember not to judge other people’s emotions.
- Taking care of children. If you have children, encourage them to discuss their concerns and feelings with you. Maybe plan an after-school outing with them that will give everyone something positive to look forward to.
- Get involved. Being with other people, getting involved in positive activities and talking about the event are all important coping strategies, but taking time to be by yourself – to think and reflect – can be helpful and healing as well.
- Recall other times you have experienced strong emotions. Consider which coping strategies have worked for you in the past and use them.
If your response to an anniversary event persists in an ongoing way that disrupts your ability to carry out your daily life activities (i.e., sleep, eat, work or attend school, communicate and experience support in important relationships, concentrate), ask for help.
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