BHS is here to assist our covered members who have been affected by the devastation of Hurricane Irma. Please follow the link below to view emergency resources that will help those affected with their most basic of necessities.
A natural disaster often causes more than property damage. Even for those not directly affected, it can also bring a flood of emotions. It is important to understand what these reactions may be and learn how to cope with them because they will impact your ability to cope and recover afterwards.
Emotional Reactions After a Traumatic Event
Right after a traumatic experience, many people feel stunned, shocked as though what they experienced simply wasn’t real. Reactions like these are normal and allow you to get through the immediate event. After the initial feelings of shock, numbness and disbelief lessen, you can feel a variety of other reactions depending on your own temperament and past experiences. The following responses, although distressing, are normal reactions to traumatic events:
- Anxiety, nervousness and irritability. These feelings may be intense.
- Depression. You may feel overwhelmed by sadness and grief.
- Anger. You may feel a more generalized anger.
- Mood swings. For some these can be dramatic and unpredictable.
- Flashbacks. You may find yourself experiencing flashbacks without warning. During a flashback it is common to sweat and feel your heart racing.
- Behavior changes. You may find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions. You may forget to eat or not feel hungry. You may find it hard to get to sleep or to stay asleep.
- Physical changes. You may experience symptoms like headaches, stomachaches and tiredness.
Ways to Cope
Here are some things that you can do to help restore your sense of control and well-being:
- Get support from people you love and trust. Talking about the event can help you feel more in control.
- Use company resources, like your Employee Assistance Program, to help you through this difficult time.
- Give yourself time. You have suffered from a tremendous shock and can’t be expected to “bounce back” quickly. Be patient with yourself.
- Try not to compare yourself with others. Everyone reacts differently to traumatic experiences.
- Avoid using alcohol or drugs to handle your emotions.
- Take care of yourself. Eat well-balanced meals as best you can, sleep and try to get some exercise.
- Write your feelings down. This can be especially helpful before going to bed.
- Consider joining a support group. Talking with others who have undergone traumatic experiences can be helpful, especially if you don’t have supportive friends and family nearby. Ask your EAP to help you find a group.
Although some people find that they can get through the stress caused by a traumatic event by using their own support systems, others find that professional help allows them to gain a sense of control and emotional well-being. If your stress reactions persist and make it difficult to handle your day-to-day routine and maintain caring relationships with others, it is important to seek professional help. If you are experiencing overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger or despair, or if you are having thoughts of suicide, it is important to seek professional help immediately. Call you BHS Care Coordinator today at 800-245-1150 to discuss your available options.