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Trauma Recovery Strategies
In light of the horrific events in Christchurch, here are some tips to help manage trauma for yourself,
your children and others around you.
● Encourage them to ask questions and reflect back to them that is normal and ok to be
feeling the way they are. This may be anxiety, stress, anger, grief, worry, fear… They
may go through the entire emotional scale, and at varying speeds. Establish trust and
alliance. Allow them to express their uncertainty and then model back to them your
sense of certainty that everything is going to be ok.
● Limit exposure to the news, each time it just reminds the brain and nervous system of
the trauma, continuing that feeling within them. We know that all forms of media will be filled
with this topic for the coming months so we must use discernment with how much we read,
listen to or watch, as it is a constant reminder. What we focus on grows emotionally within us.
Gaming can also stimulate the trauma through association, the brain doesn’t always decipher
what is perceived or real, if violence is going in it may add onto the impact of what we have
experienced in reality.
● Words. Use words in your speaking that reflect how they do want to start feeling: calm
relaxed, happy, safe. Refrain from reminding their brain of the words that they don’t want
to continue feeling as this will only help keep that emotion alive for them in their nervous
systems, and keeps their fearful memories lit up in their brain. Refrain from saying things
like “Don’t worry”, all the brain hears is worry, instead stay things like “It is all safe now”.
● Tone. Use a tone of voice that is gentle, it will make them feel safer, and more
comfortable to keep talking. Certain tones are processed by the brain as negative so will
not allow them to feel safe to speak or emote. Speak with a tone of love and care.
● Level. Get down to their level when speaking to them, this makes them feel safer and
not overpowered, again allowing them to feel more comfortable to talk.
● Affection, affection, affection. This makes them feel safe.
● Routine. Maintain routine as this keep them in a state of comfort through the familiarity of
it and provides a sense of certainty, whilst making sure there are things in their day that
make them feel really happy.
● Set well-formed outcomes. This directs their mind away from the overwhelm and
towards the positive, reassure them that the future is going to be bright and happy ie,
focus on how they would like to feel instead, get them to remind themselves of those
feelings, what they will be doing, feeling, saying, hearing. We want to keep the brain
familiar with what we do want, not what we don’t want, as this dictates how the nervous
system will continue to respond ongoing. This builds emotional and mental resilience for
now and the future.
● Most people in fear are asking themselves unhelpful “What if” questions to attempt to
anticipate and find solutions to future challenges but running it on impossible scenarios -
they are locked in panic, “What if this happens again?” “What if I am not safe?”
Encourage them to use more useful questions, “What can I do right now to feel safe or
relaxed?” What’s one small thing you can help them do right now that will make
them feel that.
● Get them to breathe in the word of what they want to feel, ie, “relax” “calm”, this will light
up in their brain the times they have experienced that and that will be the message that
gets sent to the nervous system to feel.
Empower Me Now specialises in helping people overcome the adverse effects that traumatic events
can have on them. More therapeutic processes are available to help remove the impact of trauma
specifically from the nervous system, minimising the likelihood of ongoing post traumatic stress.
Above all, show lots of love and care.