Dealing with life-altering adversities
Give yourself time to heal. Remember, after all, that post-traumatic growth is not an instantaneous process. But rather it takes time. You should realize that this will be a painful and difficult phase in your life. So be patient and allow yourself to fully mourn the losses you have incurred. And don’t be hard on yourself about the changing emotional states you may be experiencing.
Ask for support
Ask for support from people who truly care about you and whom you feel will be able to empathize well with your situation. There are no extra points for valor for going through tragedies like this alone. But do make sure to keep in mind that your traditional support system may be weakened if those who are close to you are also suffering the loss.
Join support groups
Look into local support groups that may be available in your area. These can be especially helpful for those people with limited personal support systems in their own lives. Ideally, if you do choose to join a group, try to find one that is led by an appropriately trained and experienced professional. In all, these groups can help you to realize that others in the same circumstances are struggling with similar reactions and emotions.
Talk about it
Communicate your experience during your recovery process. If you don’t have a close support system and you don’t feel comfortable participating in groups, you may even want to put your thoughts and feelings down into a journal. The key point is to be able to have a release valve for your emotions and thoughts as you work your way through the trauma.
Focus on healthy behaviours
Try to engage in as many healthy behaviours as possible to help you cope with the inevitable stress. Simple lifestyle choices like eating well-balanced meals, exercising, and making sure you get enough rest will significantly enhance your ability to cope with stress. If you are experiencing ongoing difficulties sleeping, a practice of meditation or other relaxation techniques may prove to be of great help.
A major life-altering trauma has the ability to throw off any sense of rhythm in life. So make an effort to establish, or reestablish, routines such as eating meals at regular times, or following a regimented exercise program.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
But do try to avoid alcohol and drugs. These are some of the most popular crutches and distractions that people tend to rely on to diminish their pain in times of great distress. As we mentioned earlier, the goal of post-traumatic growth is not to escape the pain. Rather it is to feel it, and through it, to emerge transformed for the better. So instead of alcohol and drugs, try to find other enjoyable hobbies or activities that will keep you present and not distracted from what you need to be feeling in order to truly heal.
Avoid major life decisions for a while
In addition, try to avoid making major life decisions in these times of deep distress. Thoughts of whether to switch careers or move cities can just add to the substantial stress that you are already experiencing. Put off contemplating those kinds of decisions until you have recovered sufficiently to consider them with a clearer mindset.
Look for meaning and purpose in your life
And finally, through this process, look to discover and connect with the inherent meaning that may be found in major adversity. This is the last, and perhaps most profound, recommendation. Potential meaning can be gleaned from even the most despairing situations.