We are resilient people. Our minds, however, were not designed to handle this level of direct exposure to trauma. From our medical and mental health workers with first hand visuals of the brutally of Covid-19, to the rest of society inundated with daily updates meant to inform us, yet simultaneously engaging us in the narrative of secondary trauma. By bearing witness to the magnitude of loss and uncertainty, we become living fatalities of trauma.
There is no way we can ingest over 6,500 people losing their lives in New York City, all the while still adapting to the consequences of this illness- from loss of income, to adjusting to life at home, to a virtual way of existing, and claim to be ok. Without question, we are not ok.
The secret toll of this pandemic is the one that’s brewing in our minds with each passing day that we shelter in place, or go out to work as an essential worker. The depth of what that means I had a chance to discuss with several professionals in the field and they all agree we are all in response mode, but slowly unraveling. However, here is what to look for and what to do.
The signs of traumatic stress:
- Changes in sleep including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Increased irritability and arguments
- Fear you can’t shake
- Physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches, or tightness in the chest or arm that last a few days
- Decreased motivation
- Increased anxiety and worry
According to Charles Darwin it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change. To increase your resiliency these experts suggested:
- Pause and check in with yourself. What is your body saying to you? What do you need right now? Nurture that.
- Maintain a routine to keep your mind and body active and stimulated.
- Acknowledge when you don’t feel your best, or when it’s hard or that you are just overwhelmed. The truth is, this is all out of our control and you are not alone in how you feel.
- Do whatever action you can to foster a sense of empowerment. What can you control? What can you do?
- Disconnect from social media and even from your family or friends. Create a sacred space to de-stress and inforce boundaries where needed.
- Know its ok to cry and take the pressure off.
- Build pause and self-care in every day.
An important resource is also any option to talk about your experiences and get some support. Therapy is a wonderful resources and if you need help finding a therapist reach out to us at 347-868-7813. The Office of Mental Health also offer a free and confidential support line: 1844-863-9314. Now is a great time to boost your mental health and you don’t have to do that alone with fantastic telehealth options available. For more great insights and tips catch the full episode at www.facebook.com/therapyisdope or watch it here.
Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R