Have you been struggling with memories of past trauma that’s resurfaced due to recent news coverage? For many of those fighting that battle, the current news and political climate can be more triggering than ever.
With increased focus on difficult topics like sexual assault, immigration, and natural disasters, it can become difficult to separate current events from your own trauma history. It takes time, courage and social support to learn how to deal with these reminders.
Some tips for dealing with trauma triggers
- Engage your senses and/or use physical activity to self-soothe
When difficult emotions come up for you, take time to engage in self-care. Set aside space for a self-soothing activity that stimulates your senses in a more nurturing way. Take a long warm bath, get a massage, use essential oils, or even spend time in nature, perhaps get elbow-deep in dirt by gardening.
You may also exercise by walking, running or dancing to your favorite song(s). Our senses are very much involved in the ways that we store memories. We can combat and even create new memories through our senses by engaging in some of the activities above or others that bring calm.
- Channel your feelings through expressive writing.
You may use journaling to write about your traumatic experiences and memories; or, you may elect to simply focus on describing what feelings have been triggered using stream of consciousness writing. You may also use creative poetry to help express your emotions without focusing on the actual trauma. In any format, writing is often effective for coping with difficult memories.
- Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness helps us stay present in the moment, without getting overwhelmed by memories of past traumas or worries about the future. One of the easiest ways to activate a mindful state is simply to focus on the breath. Inevitably, your mind will be flooded with thoughts and emotions may come. It is important to return gently to focusing on your inhalation and exhalation; this will help change your physiological responses to upsetting images or emotions by clearing the mind of the past.
- Talk with somebody with whom you feel safe.
Talking can help give shape and definition to your feelings, helping to regulate your emotions. Set up a time to talk with someone you respect and trust, be it a friend or family member.
- Find a therapist whom you trust.
Therapy is one long-term solution to learning how to cope effectively with trauma, flashbacks, and other post-traumatic stress symptoms. Finding the right therapist can really make a difference; it is worth the investment.
- If you need immediate support, try these free hotlines:
- Call RAINN’s 24/7 hotline for trauma related support and linkage to local resources: 1–800–656-HOPE.
- Text Crisis Text Line to get empathetic support.
- For more general support, contact the Peer Support Warm Line 24/7: 1-888-945-1414