I-CART (Indiana Crisis Assistance Response Team) (A NOVA Trained Crisis Response Team) P.O. Box 44168, Indianapolis, IN 46244-0168
Self Care and Self Help
Individuals, particularly those whose lives were directly affected by the recent traumatic event, are very susceptible to emotional and physical reactions. Common reactions to traumatic events include feeling afraid, sad, horrified, helpless, angry, overwhelmed, confused, distracted, irritable, emotionally numb, or disoriented. Difficulties with attention, word finding, the ability to focus and concentrate, changes in appetite and sleeping habits are also common. People may also be bothered by nightmares or upsetting thoughts. These are all common reactions to stressful events.
Some general considerations:
1. Coping with loss and inconvenience brought on by the traumatic situation is a process, not an event. Be mindful that both adults and children can have reactions days, weeks, even months after the event.
2. Be aware that individuals who have a history of ongoing exposure to trauma or loss may be especially vulnerable in the days and weeks following the new trauma.
3. Be aware that both children and adults do not always demonstrate feelings and concerns directly…pay attention to signs of concern or distress.
The following are things you can do for self care:
1. Spend time with other people. Coping with stressful events is easier when people support each other and are available to talk and listen to each other.
2. Talk about what you are thinking about and what you are feeling. Be willing to listen to others who need to talk about how they feel.
3. Take time to be angry (constructively) or cry if you need to. To feel better in the long run, we need to let feelings out instead of pushing them away or hiding them.
4. Stay with everyday routines. Familiar habits can be very comforting, especially after times of extreme chaos.
5. Ask for support and help from family, friends, church or other community resources.
6. Identify available trusted friends and family members from whom you can seek support when you feel overwhelmed.
7. Take care of yourself. Eat healthy food and take time to walk, stretch, exercise and relax, even if just for a few minutes at a time. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep. Avoid drugs and alcohol.
8. Make time for enjoyable activities…even activities that take only a few minutes.
9. Monitor your own reactions and seek professional assistance if needed. If you are trying to do too much, try to cut back by putting off or giving up a few things that are not absolutely necessary. If changes in your behavior, emotions, and reactions become pronounced and/or prolonged, see assistance.
When to seek more help:
Sometimes people need extra help to get over a traumatic event. A person may need extra help coping if he/she:
• Has prolonged feelings of being upset or fearful most of the time
• Displays significant behavior changes for a significant period of time
• Displays changes in work habits and attitudes
• Has important relationships that are getting worse and worse
• Uses drugs or alcohol too much
• Can’t stop thinking about the event
• Has significant changes in eating or sleeping habits
• Is irritable, jumpy or displays other significant mood changes
Where to seek help:
The following are ways you can find help-
• Call your doctor’s office or ask friends if they know of any mental health providers whom they recommend
• If you work for a large company or organization, check with the Human Resources offices and ask about an EAP (Employee Assistance Program)
• Call your local Mental Health Agency
High Risk Individuals
• Were directly involved, affected by or exposed to the event
• Were familiar with or close to the victim(s)
• Have experienced numerous and/or significant trauma or loss situations
• Have a pre-existing psychopathology or emotional concerns
• Have pre-existing physical health concerns
• Lack internal resources for responding to the situation
• Lack external resources for responding to the situation
• Worry about the safety of a family member, significant other, and/or peer
• Demonstrate a response that seems out of proportion to the event
• Had a recent negative or positive interaction or missed an opportunity for a recent interaction with the victim(s) or individual(s) involved in the crisis situation