Understanding Trauma

Trauma is a psychological and emotional response to an unexpected event or series of events that are distressing, frightening, or overwhelming. Traumatic experiences can range from accidents, natural disasters, community, and interpersonal violence, sudden or unexplained death, or any event that threatens an individual’s physical or emotional safety.

Common Reactions to Trauma

People may react differently to traumatic events, and their emotional responses can vary. Some common reactions include:

  1. Shock and Disbelief: Feeling numb or disconnected from reality immediately after the event.
  2. Fear and Anxiety: Experiencing heightened fear, worry, and restlessness.
  3. Flashbacks: Reliving the traumatic event through intrusive memories or nightmares.
  4. Avoidance: Trying to avoid reminders, places, or people associated with the trauma.
  5. Emotional Numbness: Feeling emotionally distant from others and unable to experience pleasure.
  6. Hyperarousal: Being easily startled, having trouble sleeping, or experiencing irritability.
  7. Guilt or Shame: Blaming oneself for the event or feeling ashamed about one’s reactions.
  8. Physical Symptoms: Experiencing headaches, fatigue, changes in appetite, or other physical symptoms.

Coping Strategies

While everyone’s journey through trauma is unique, there are some effective coping strategies that can help you manage your emotions and promote recovery:

  1. Routine: Establishing a regular routine can provide a sense of stability and control.
  2. Limit Exposure: Limit your exposure to news or triggers related to the traumatic event.
  3. Self-Care: Prioritize activities such as exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep.  See the FSAO Self-Care Tips and Resources page for more ideas.
  4. Mindfulness and Relaxation: Practice techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. The Headspace app, (add hyperlink when it becomes available) available at no cost to BU employees, can teach you meditation practices to calm your nervous system.
  5. Social Support: Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, clergy member or counselor.  Connect with people who can provide understanding and support.
  6. Creative Outlets: Engage in activities you enjoy, such as art, music, or writing.

How the FSAO Can Help

Remember that you are not alone. The FSAO offers free, confidential counseling services to help you navigate the challenges of trauma and other life events. Our licensed counselors are trained to provide guidance, support, and coping strategies tailored to your unique needs.  If you are interested, we can also refer you to trauma-informed behavioral health treatment providers in the community.

The FSAO also offers assistance to managers in supporting employees who are impacted by traumatic events.  See Critical Incidents for more information.

Moving Forward

Recovery from trauma is a journey, and healing takes time. With the right support and coping strategies, you can work toward reclaiming your emotional well-being. FSAO is here to support you every step of the way.

Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, and you don’t have to go through this alone.

Additional Information and Resources

7 Tools for Managing Traumatic Stress

Coping with Mass Shootings and Identity-Based Violence

National Center for PTSD

PTSD Coach App and Online