Stage One – Web Counselling for Trauma
Trauma Triage and Web Counselling
Take an update of each of the 5 areas below and make sure that everything ‘urgent’ is taken care of. Assign someone you trust to each area and make an action plan for the next few weeks – in each of the 5 areas at the same time. Web counselling is ideal to find information to make this plan. A month of unlimited email support from a professional counsellor is invaluable too.
Find ‘Your Place’ – an Important First Step in both Emotional and Physical Trauma
In both emotional and physical trauma, finding a place, your place, where you can take a deep breath is really important. I suggest thinking of a place that you love and find comforting and build an image, quite detailed, in your mind of that place and then you can ‘go there’ quite quickly whenever you need to.
What can you see? How does it smell? Is it warm or cold? Can you feel the warmth of the sun on your skin? What can you hear? Go to this comfort place whenever you need to ‘get away’ from something that’s happening, such as a medical procedure, or if you need to calm yourself.
Whilst you are in ‘your place’ practice breathing in to a count of 3 and 4 when you breathe out. When the inhale is shorter than the exhale your heart rate will start to slow down.
Talking about your trauma helps providing that it feels helpful. Web counselling can be a great resource here. It used to be that you were almost forced to talk about what happened because it was thought that this was the only way you could recover from trauma. Today, however, if going back and talking about what happened is not comfortable and you don’t feel that it’s something you want to do, don’t. The new neurobiology says it can be a source of re-traumatization.
It’s natural and very necessary to talk about your emotional physical trauma, which is why I suggest a web counsellor email package. Don’t underestimate that need. I invite you to remember that, as adults, we are responsible for each and every one of our own needs and emotions. ConnectionCue™ Cards are a fun way to explore your needs. That can really empower us to take responsibility for ourselves, which makes healing stronger. It also relieves our friends and family from worry about having to take responsibility for us.
Physical Trauma Counselling
At this early stage I encourage you to make an inventory and ensure that there is someone taking care of each of the 5 healing areas. Find someone to co-ordinate the healing in each of these areas – either yourself or a relative, web counselling, friend, nurse or social worker. Ideally, make sure there is one person (usually yourself) in overall charge and at least one person heading up each of the 5 healing areas: Physical, Emotional, Financial, Cognitive and Social/Fun.
Every day work on something from each category – so 5 different areas. Keep a simple journal, either in a notebook or on your computer, tablet or phone and make sure that each area is addressed. Slowly your health, physical and emotional, will build.
Balanced Healing = Real Healing
It’s really important to make sure that every area of healing – physical, financial, cognitive and fun – is taken care of as well as emotional needs. These emotional needs are greater than you imagine, partly because they have been dulled by natural endorphins or medication and so are not obvious at the start. Caring for them now is good but managing them at some point in the future, when they become apparent, is fine too. Web counselling and an email package is an economical way of addressing this need.
Some first suggestions:
Survive and Rest
In emotional and physical trauma, adrenalin and the body keep going and the body’s drive to meet the trauma head-on and survive is remarkable. This is a time when physical pain is often naturally addressed and you feel wakeful and even jittery. Web counselling and email support can be really helpful here.
Make sure you are sure you are in safe hands (and that it’s safe to relax) and then use ‘your place’ and the breathing described above to slow down your reactions. You may also feel cold at this time and want extra blankets.
Once the trauma is resolved – sometimes not for a while – you will feel warmer and sleepy. After the initial surge of adrenalin – sometimes lasting weeks – you may be exhausted. Sometimes much of the days (even weeks or months) after the trauma is resolved, are spent sleeping much more than usual.
The body must rebuild itself after both emotional and physical trauma and a diet high in protein and vegetables and low in simple carbohydrates is important. An excellent general multi-vitamin, probiotics (if you’ve had antibiotics) and enzymes are also vital.
Emotional Trauma – Web Counselling
Before you can move on: say goodbye to the past. In hospital there is always a hospital chaplain and/or a social worker who will sit and talk with you. You can also use a web counsellor – all you need is internet!
It is a good idea to care for friends and family, who may be taking on extra duties to help out anyway, by avoiding too much talk about your trauma. You may be surprised at how much you need to talk about it. This is very normal. If you can, find a web counsellor or peer counsellor. Keep talk about your trauma ‘compartmentalized’, only talking to your counsellor or to a friend for a short time, rather than talking about it for too long. Striking a balance between talking about the trauma and allowing yourself to be distracted – perhaps even laughing and talking about what else is going on in the world – is important. Emotional recovery is imperative, even for a simple physical injury when you may not realize there is emotional pain too but so is orienting yourself to the outside world.
Emotions are all valuable – whether it be anger or kindness. Each outburst of anger is likely protecting a tender hurt part of you. Whether your trauma is physical or emotional, all recovery includes emotional work to regain your sparkle.
Maybe the ‘good reason’ that stimulated a certain behaviour in the past is no longer such a good idea now? Maybe you could better enjoy life without it? These are steps very much suited to Step 2 and I invite you to come and explore those patterns of behaviour with me on this trauma counselling services website. You will find tools here to support you to find those patterns in yourself and more tools and ideas to help you work through them, should you choose.
Every part of you, every characteristic, developed for a ‘good reason’, often following trauma. These characteristics grew, controlled by your ‘survivor’ (more about that later), in order that the whole of you, as an ‘organism’, could survive. It must have worked because here you are.
Exercise – as Best You Can
Exercise in the fresh air is essential. Sometimes a few steps are all you can do to get out on to your balcony and sit there for a little while. Even sitting on a chair can be quite tiring after being in bed. If possible, go for a walk, preferably in nature. The exercise of Pilates was originally created especially for those in bed.
Ultimately work out at the gym or take yoga, pilates, dancing, aerobics /jazzercise / zumba, play catch with your kids, have a rebounder (small trampoline) in your house, walk on the beach… Our bodies were never meant to sit or lie down all day – our ancestors were hunter-gatherers and walked 10 miles a day – and any exercise is good!
Clean Water and Air
Mostly in the west we take clean air and water for granted but in consideration of a body that is healing from emotional or physical trauma we should ensure a good supply of both is available. Instinctively I found I wanted to support my body as much as I could and an excellent air purifier and a simple water filter help. Remember, the body has been sucker-punched and if it is to rebuild then the more we can make its environment good, the better it will be able to heal.
Sleep, Rest and Meditation
Rest is incredibly important. One of the first things my body did in order to survive physical trauma was to shut down every activity that wasn’t ‘essential’ – including being awake – so that it concentrate on surviving. I was in a coma for several weeks and sometimes hospitals induce a coma for that reason.
After traumatic emotional news, there is an immediate wakefulness and inability to rest while the body searches for any chance of resolving the trauma. After resolution, this is followed by a period of exhaustion and a need to rest, eat well and exercise, with plenty of fresh water and clean air.
Meditation is fabulous and does not always have to be ‘monastic’. Headphones playing soft music with binaural beats are excellent.
Social Healing / Fun / Laughter
Finding a little time each day to visit with a friend, laugh at a daily joke, take laughter yoga, watch a favourite TV show, take a bath with lovely smelling bath salts and candles, enjoy supper with a loved one… There are so many possibilities! Many activities can include a little socializing, particularly dance. Schedule pleasure into your day, whatever your trauma.
And very important: note with words what you are doing and how you are addressing your needs. The brain and mind are interesting and ‘think about’, ‘do’, ‘speak’ and ‘hear’ are each in different parts of the brain. As you do something nice – or perhaps necessary – for yourself, think about it and note it, perhaps out loud. Maybe write it down under the correct ‘5 area heading’. Mirrors so that you can see ‘someone’ – yourself! – acknowledging what you’ve done is a great idea.
Cognitive Healing – Learn About Your Condition
If you have ready access to the internet, go online – or find a book – to help you learn about your condition. Try and understand what has happened to you and what your options are. The more you can learn and read, the better. Reduce those horrible – lethal – feelings of helplessness and hopelessness by finding our all you can about your condition.
Reading, looking at books, playing cards, simple mental math, counting backwards, reading simple maps and dancing (where you have to remember the steps) are great exercise for the brain too. If your injury has included your brain, such activities are vital. ReBuildingYou has also published the very first workbook for adult survivors of brain injury, stroke and chemobrain and this is beyond helpful.
Financial Healing – Put Your Finances in Hands You Trust
Take advantage of your hospital social worker, a financial planner, your account manager at the local bank, your social welfare officer or just a details-oriented friend to help you list out your assets and obligations and ascertain that you have sufficient income to carry you through this healing period. Allow for longer than you think you may need to recover.
Balanced Healing = Real Healing
Attending to each of these 5 areas at the same time will save you countless hours of frustration. I would work so hard in one area, only to find that my healing wasn’t balanced and a) didn’t feel good and b) didn’t maintain. For example I would realize that I hadn’t exercised for days and so put all my attention on exercise and overdo it. Then I would spend a few days recovering and then realize that I had lost all of the gains I had made in the other areas. In cases of brain injury (including stroke and chemotherapy) we have a tendency to over-concentrate and not look at ‘the bigger picture’. Our resilience is also compromised so it’s really important to have a ‘coach’ – or a web counsellor – who can ensure that you work equally in each area.
Wishing you warmth and perseverance!