As we navigate the changes this pandemic has placed on us, it is important to be kind to ourselves and acknowledge that feelings of worry, fear, anger or sadness are completely normal. Events like this pandemic can incite feelings from past traumatic events in our lives. Despite the healing and growth that may have taken place in the time since we experienced these events, we may feel like we have been transported back to a place of hardship or despair.
Clinical psychologist, Seth J Gillihan, PhD, recently wrote, “The fear and uncertainty we face from COVID-19 can be a trigger for any kind of previous trauma, such as accidents, assaults, or abuse—any horrifying event that felt unpredictable and uncontrollable.” A past traumatic event can compound or exacerbate our emotional response to a major life disruption. Here are some coping strategies you can use during this time if you are struggling with past trauma.
Ask for help
The Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) provides free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy and short term counseling services to University of Colorado Boulder students, graduate students, faculty and staff who have experienced a traumatic, disturbing or life-disruptive event. Call 303-492-8855 to connect with an OVA counselor or to receive after-hours support.
Pay attention to what you are feeling in the moment, both physically and emotionally. Mindfulness can offer clues about the times when you feel triggered and help you address it in a healthy way. It can also be a helpful tool to keep you grounded in the present moment. You can practice mindfulness in a number of ways, like focusing on your breath, walking slowly and feeling the sensations of each step or doing a meditation.
Make time for self-care
Taking care of ourselves is important, especially in the middle of a pandemic or if we are coping with past trauma. Take time to identify self-care habits that may work for you. You can try:
Whether you’re reading the news or scrolling through social media, it can be difficult to get away from negative news and information that may be triggering. That’s why it’s important to set healthy boundaries for ourselves. Here are some ways to set boundaries:
Attend a workshop
Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) offers a wide variety of virtual workshops and resources for free. Workshops cover a number of topic areas, including anxiety management, coping, mindfulness, communication, sexual identity and body image. Most are available live and as pre-recorded sessions.
The Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) provides free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy and short term counseling services to University of Colorado Boulder students, graduate students, faculty and staff who have experienced a traumatic, disturbing or life-disruptive event. Call 303-492-8855 to connect with an OVA counselor or to recieve after-hours support.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, CAPS is here to help. Call 303-492-2277 to make an appointment with a counselor or try e-Let’s Talk for a free and confidential consultation.