Symptoms of Physiological &/Or Physical Trauma, Stress & Anxiety
We all react to trauma, stress & anxiety in different ways, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel, or respond, so don’t judge your own reactions or those of other people. Your responses are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events.
Emotional & psychological symptoms:
Shock, denial, or disbelief
Confusion, difficulty concentrating
Anger, irritability, mood swings
Anxiety and fear
Guilt, shame, self-blame
Withdrawing from others
Feeling sad or hopeless
Feeling disconnected or numb
Insomnia or nightmares
Being startled easily
Edginess and agitation
Aches and pains
How Trauma, Stress & Anxiety affects the body
Trauma can hit even the strongest among us with great force. Of course, physical traumas and injuries are usually visually measurable and can lead to trauma-related physical pain, but emotional trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also have a profound effect on the human body.
Emotional trauma can cause long-lasting brain changes that may lead to addiction, depression, and a host of other concerns that can devastate lives if left untreated. When traumatic events occur, it can take a significant amount of time to get over the memories, the emotions, and the feeling of just not being able to feel safe.
When your sense of security has been shattered by an incredibly stressful event, your body can often react in different ways. Traumatic events can impact anyone. Those who are able to recover the fastest are those who have support, have learned skills to gain healing, and give therapeutic counseling a try.
4 tips that may help you thrive
THESE TIPS ARE TO HELP THE GENERAL POPULATION FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE
TRAUMA STRESS AND ANXIETY ARE SO PROMINENT IN ALL OF US AND A PERFECTLY NORMAL REACTION TO THE OVERWHELMING STRESS THAT LIFE BRINGS US ON A DAILY BASIS.
Trauma, stress & anxiety tip 1: Get moving
Trauma disrupts your body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyperarousal and fear. As well as burning off adrenaline and releasing endorphins, exercise and movement can actually help repair your nervous system.
Keeping things basic, some people aren't ready to go out and do 30 mins of exercise a day and that's ok! It is all about the hear and now, naming 5 green objects in your room to help keep you grounded.
Try walking up and down the stairs a couple times just some basic stuff to get you up and active.
Try to exercise for 30 minutes or more on most days. Or if it’s easier, three 10-minute spurts of exercise per day are just as good.
Exercise that is rhythmic and engages both your arms and legs—such as walking, running, swimming, basketball, or even dancing—works best.
Add a mindfulness element. Instead of focusing on your thoughts or distracting yourself while you exercise, really focus on your body and how it feels as you move. Notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of wind on your skin. Rock climbing, boxing, weight training, or martial arts can make this easier—after all, you need to focus on your body movements during these activities in order to avoid injury.
Tip 2: Don’t isolate
Following a trauma, you may want to withdraw from others, but isolation only makes things worse. Connecting to others face to face will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.
You don’t have to talk about the trauma. Connecting with others doesn’t have to involve talking about the trauma. In fact, for some people, that can just make things worse. Comfort comes from feeling engaged and accepted by others.
Ask for support. While you don’t have to talk about the trauma itself, it is important that you have someone to share your feelings with face to face, someone who will listen attentively without judging you. Turn to a trusted family member, friend, counselor, or clergyman.
Participate in social activities, even if you don’t feel like it. Do “normal” activities with other people, activities that have nothing to do with the traumatic experience.
Reconnect with old friends. If you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect.
Join a support group for trauma survivors. Connecting with others who are facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation, and hearing how others cope can help inspire you in your own recovery.
Volunteer. As well as helping others, volunteering can be a great way to challenge the sense of helplessness that often accompanies trauma. Remind yourself of your strengths and reclaim your sense of power by helping others.
Make new friends. If you live alone or far from family and friends, it’s important to reach out and make new friends. Take a class or join a club to meet people with similar interests, connect to an alumni association, or reach out to neighbors or work colleagues.
If connecting to others is difficult…
Many people who have experienced trauma feel disconnected, withdrawn and find it difficult to connect with other people. If that describes you, there are some actions you can take before you next meet with a friend:
- Exercise or move. Jump up and down, swing your arms and legs, or just flail around. Your head will feel clearer and you’ll find it easier to connect.
- Vocal toning. As strange as it sounds, vocal toning is a great way to open up to social engagement. Sit up straight and simply make “mmmm” sounds. Change the pitch and volume until you experience a pleasant vibration in your face.
Tip 3: Self-regulate your nervous system
No matter how agitated, anxious, or out of control you feel, it’s important to know that you can change your arousal system and calm yourself. Not only will it help relieve the anxiety associated with trauma, but it will also engage a greater sense of control.
Mindful breathing. If you are feeling disoriented, confused, or upset, practicing mindful breathing is a quick way to calm yourself. Simply take 60 breaths, focusing your attention on each ‘out’ breath.
Sensory input. Does a specific sight, smell or taste quickly make you feel calm? Or maybe petting an animal or listening to music works to quickly soothe you? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment with different quick stress relief techniques to find what works best for you.
Staying grounded. To feel in the present and more grounded, sit on a chair. Feel your feet on the ground and your back against the chair. Look around you and pick six objects that have red or blue in them. Notice how your breathing gets deeper and calmer.
Allow yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it. Acknowledge your feelings about the trauma as they arise and accept them. HelpGuide’s Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can help.
Tip 4: Take care of your health
It’s true: having a healthy body can increase your ability to cope with the stress of trauma.
Get plenty of sleep. After a traumatic experience, worry or fear may disturb your sleep patterns. But a lack of quality sleep can exacerbate your trauma symptoms and make it
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