Module 5 – Part 2 – 4 Recommended behavioural advice in dealing with reactions to traumatic experiences

This sub-chapter is based on Stiftung Mayday, adapted by the author. []

It is fully normal and there are no reasons to worry, if you or another person reacts to a critical incident in one or more of the described ways. In order to reduce or discontinue this reaction you should nevertheless try to consider the following advice:

  • Get exercise if at all possible. Ideally, you engage in any endurance sport that is pleasant for you for 30 minutes with a pulse rate of 120 heartbeats per minute. Drink preferably half a litre of water after the exercise. Through the movement or respectively the exercise and the liquid the metabolism is stimulated and your body releases the surplus stock of stress hormones the quickest. Consider that your resting pulse will very likely be increased due to the stress. This is also normal under stress. Accordingly, you reach 120 heartbeats per minute probably quicklier than usual. The general rule for stress reduction through exercise is: a lower pulse rate is more efficient than a higher. You should do the exercise as often as you feel that you benefit from it.
  • Eat as usual, if possible. A lack of appetite is with high likelihood caused by an increased adrenaline level in the blood, which contracts the stomach. It helps when you eat a small bite, set the alarm on 30 minutes or ask someone to remind you to have another small bite. After you did that 3 to up to maximum of 5 times, you will start to feel normal appetite again and you can eat normally.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol reduces the dream phases during sleep and thereby prolongs the time that you need for recovery. The less alcohol you drink, the faster you will recover.
  • Think about what has benefited you in comparable situations or very generally in the past. If you can think of something, do it, also if you lack the motivation at first. It will benefit you this time, too.

If you follow the advice above, your hormone balance will recover significantly faster, you will find back to your ordinary sleep patterns, your normal psychic condition, and to your normal behaviour behavioural pattern much more rapidly.

Advice for dealing with traumatized people:

  • Please do not inquire if an affected person does not want to or cannot talk about it by their own initiative.
  • When affected persons narrate, listen actively and attentively, also if descriptions are repeated.
  • Do not minimize the incident („it could have come worse“, etc.) but show your understanding for the situation and take the narrated feelings serious.
  • Do not take emotional statements personally, traumatized persons are tense.
  • Help with daily work (cooking, tidying up, child care, etc.).
  • Offer your help also without being requested (just be there and assist, hand handkerchiefs, hygiene articles, organize food, dress wounds, organise someone who takes victims into the hospital, to the physician/health care workers, home or/and who stays there overnight, support a sound sleep)