DePaul University Division of Student Affairs > Support Services > Counseling > Coping with Trauma

Coping with Trauma

Suggestions on ways to care for yourself after a traumatic event or disaster:
  • Don't be isolated
  • Use natural support systems, friends, families & co-workers
  • Communicate your experience with those close to you or keep a diary.
  • Avoid telling stories in a repetitive way that may deepen the trauma.
  • Watch news in time-limited intervals and then turn the news off.
  • Focus on your personal resources, the things that make you feel calm, strong and grounded.
  • Don’t get preoccupied with the things you can’t control.
  • Do things that allow you to get your mind off the trauma: watch a movie, knit, garden, cook, play with children or a pet.
  • Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. If having difficulty sleeping, try some relaxation exercises before bedtime. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and drugs.
  • Establish or re-establish routines.
  • Avoid making major life decisions such as switching careers or jobs.
  • Volunteer to help by donating blood or send money to victims.
  • Get involved in groups, lead by trained professionals, that process the traumatic event.
What to expect after a traumatic event:
  • Emotional Reactions:
    shock, fear, denial, grief, anger, helplessness, hopelessness, feeling numb or empty, diminished ability to feel interest, pleasure and love

  • Physical Reactions:
    tension, fatigue, edginess, insomnia, bodily aches or pain, being startled easily, racing heartbeat, nausea, change of appetite, change in sex drive.

  • Cognitive Reactions: 
    confusion, disorientation, worry, shortened attention span, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, recurring thoughts or nightmares, unwanted memories

  • Interpersonal Reactions:
    distrust, conflict, withdrawal, work problems, school problems, irritability, loss of intimacy, being over-controlling

Contact University Counseling Services