It is important to pay attention to what you need as you emerge from such a significant experience.
Take a break. Your body and mind need time away from the event to heal. Limit the amount of time that you watch details about the tragedy on TV.
Avoid excessive substance use. Drugs or alcohol may dull the pain in the moment, but they ultimately make post-trauma symptoms worse. Caffeine is an initial stimulant that may contribute to anxiety and set you up for a bigger let down.
Eat and rest. Even though you may not feel like it, you need rest and energy to face the days ahead. Avoid excessive sweets and drink plenty of water.
Connect with people. Talking to people and being around others helps you to reconnect to the world. Seek out persons who care for and support you. Share your reactions, thoughts and how the experience impacted you, or talk about other things—just find ways to connect.
Exercise. To help your body expend some of the nervous energy. Don't overdo it. You may be more tired than you realize.
Establish a routine. Research indicates keeping focused on day-to-day tasks or routines helps mitigate the effects of stress. Structure will help you maintain focus and a sense of purpose and provide a needed mental break from the event.
Give yourself permission to think and feel. Acknowledging and expressing your own unique thoughts and feelings are essential elements of coping and healing. If you aren't comfortable talking with others, consider using art, such as drawings or poetry, or writing a journal.
Practice and implement relaxation techniques. This will reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. Examples include deep breathing, muscle relaxations, visualization, and meditation.
Engage in helping others. Consider sending donations, cards, or other types of support to relief efforts or those most directly impacted by the event. Helping others often is the healthiest way to manage our own feelings of powerlessness.
Reach out. Talk to a peer support person, mental health professional, or religious/spiritual leader. Other aids may include meditation, reading, spiritual reflection, or involvement in support groups.
Find your new normal. Begin to engage in daily activities. You won't forget what you experienced—it’s now a part of your life. It’s important to recall what your life was like before the event and determine where you want to be in the future. All of this together will help you to find your new normal.