You’ve heard of PTSD. But have you heard of secondary traumatic stress?
After a national or local tragedy, such as recent hurricane Michael, many people will stay glued to their TV’s or social media for the latest updates. But do you know what that may be doing to your brain and your overall mental health? Taking in a constant diet of any tragedy can result in:
- Substance abuse
- Survivors guilt
- Sleep issues to name a few
First responders are especially prone to experiencing secondary stress also known as compassion fatigue. Do not think for one moment that because the critical event did not happen directly to you that it cannot effect you. These events effect everyone.
To be available for helping others, it’s first important to understand that you need to be aware of your own mental and emotional health care. Remember, there is only one person who can take care of you and that is you. Do you value your mental and emotional health? I hope so, because if you do not value it, who will?
Here are a few tips for taking care of yourself during and after a critical incident:
- Limit the amount of time you spend feeding on media updates
- Return to your normal routine as soon as possible
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid caffeine
- Avoid alcohol
- Eat healthy foods that will feed your body and your brain
- Reduce stress and demands in other areas of your life
- Seek spiritual and emotional support from friends, family, counselors, and spiritual leaders
- Practice relaxation like prayer, meditation or yoga
- Get fresh air and exercise
- Face the issues you are struggling with and discuss them with people you trust
A critical event or traumatic stress directly impacts and arouses the central nervous system, think fight or flight. By following these self care tips for traumatic events you can help calm and sooth your central nervous system. Caring for yourself, puts you in a much better position to care for and support others.