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Taking care of yourself

Here are some ways in which you can take care of yourself. Click on each of the following items for more information.

Do not isolate yourself

People affected by post-traumatic stress disorder often isolate themselves. Try not to withdraw from those around you. There is probably someone among your friends and family who can listen to you and help. Studies have shown that people who benefit from a strong support network are more likely to see an improvement in their condition (Brewin, Andrews, & Valentine, 2000; Scarpa, Haden, & Hurley, 2006).

Seek professional advice

Make use of the services that are available to you (doctor, mental health specialist, victim support services, etc.). Self-help groups, where you can talk with others who have experienced similar experiences to yours, can be helpful. If it is part of your daily life, spirituality may also help you (Connor, Davidson, & Lee, 2003).

Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and medications

It is not advisable to use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to help you cope. These will aggravate your symptoms, even if they offer comfort at first (Nishith, Resick, & Mueser, 2001). If you think you may need medication you should consult your doctor; do not be tempted to self-medicate.

Do not avoid talking about the event

Researchers believe that avoiding the things that trigger unpleasant thoughts about the event actually prevents such thoughts from gradually fading (Brewin, 2001). Devoting time to thinking and talking about the traumatic event and how it has affected you (with healthcare professionals, friends or volunteers, for example), and giving yourself time for rest and relaxation is a constructive way of managing intrusive thoughts.

Try to resume your normal life

Try to resume your normal routines and activities where possible, as soon as you are able to do so. Individuals suffering from traumatic stress tend to abandon social and work activities, which served to provide structure and meaning to their day.

Try to accept your symptoms

The intensity of your suffering may take you by surprise, but this is caused largely by what you have been through. The best way of overcoming intrusive thoughts about the trauma is to accept them (even if they are difficult to tolerate) and then to let them go (Brewin, 2001).

Learn about your symptoms

Try to learn more about what you are experiencing; the aim is not to become an expert in your condition, but rather to know more about your symptoms so that you can overcome them. A good place to start is the “e-Library”, where you will find files that offer an overview of the major concepts of psychological trauma.

Last updated: 1/1/2010 | © info-trauma 2009