Precursors to Trauma and What We Can Do Right Now

For anyone who is interested in diving deeper into understanding how this pandemic may affect our well-being long term, I have recently discovered a helpful series with psychologist Dr. Bessel van der Kolk available online at this link: Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

Unknown.jpegMany of us have felt at a loss as to how to handle our current circumstances. While our rational minds comfort us by reminding us that this is an unprecedented event, we may continue to feel at a loss as to how to move forward through this pandemic . Many people, parents in particular, have also expressed concern, “How is this going to affect my child long-term?” This is a shared concern that we don’t have the answer to right now, although there are steps we can take to mitigate the traumatic impact of this event on both ourselves and our children which Dr. Bessel speaks to in his series on the Global Coronavirus Crisis.

Dr. Bessel specializes in trauma and people’s adaptations to trauma, and explains in this first video that we are currently in a pre-traumatic phase. He speaks to the following precursors of trauma and what we can do to minimize trauma for ourselves and our families. Please note that these are highlights, and I highly recommend watching the half hour video at the above link!

  • Lack of predictability. Establish routines and a schedule that includes activities you can look forward to each week.
  • Immobility. Our bodies need to move, particularly when we are in stressful situations so that our stress hormones can be released.
  • Loss of connection. Even if via screen or from a distance, make sure you continue to maintain connection with your loved ones through this event.
  • Losing a sense of agency. (“Numbing out.”) Maintain self-awareness and acceptance of how this situation is impacting you even if it feels challenging.
  • Loss of a sense of time and sequence. Incorporate a practice like meditation that will help you maintain awareness and the realization this situation is temporary.
  • Loss of safety. Ensure your sense of safety by recognizing what it will take to allow you to feel safe physically and emotionally. 
  • Loss of sense of purpose and identity. Stay connected with what’s important to you. 

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