In Honor of World Health Day: Managing Post-Pandemic Trauma

Each year on April 7, the World Health Organization celebrates its anniversary with World Health DayEach year on this day, the WHO seeks to draw attention to a specific health issue that concerns people all over the world. This year, the WHO will highlight the need to create wellbeing amongst all communities.

Wellbeing in All Families

When thinking about the WHO’s goal this year to draw attention to the wellbeing of all communities, I can’t help but think of the storms we’ve all weathered during the past two years in a pandemic. Personally, I’ve felt the struggle. Professionally, I’ve watched people navigate uncharted waters while gasping for air.

We won’t know the long-term effects of the pandemic for a very long time, but it’s clear that the trauma and fatigue felt by many is widespread.

woman lying face down on bed, managing pandemic traumaThe Trauma & Fatigue of the Pandemic

Trauma is the experience of one’s safety being in jeopardy and internal resources being overwhelmed. Humans have a need to feel that we have the physical and emotional resources to manage any given situation. Still, trauma happens when you don’t feel you have sufficient resources to get through. 

People have been taxed emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially for the past two years. Trauma can show up in a multitude of ways:

  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Avoidance
  • Mood swings
  • Frequent anger and crying
  • Forgetfulness
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Chronic headaches and fatigue
  • Feeling out of control with eating, drinking, gambling
  • Inability to stick to commitments
  • Disconnection from others

Moms are resilient. We’ve gotten help for our kids and marriages. We’ve changed jobs or created a new normal. We’ve made strides to get our lives back on track.

Everyone’s story is different, but if you’re reading this, I know you’ve struggled somehow. The past two years have overwhelmed our resources

Managing Through Fatigue & Trauma

In this month of World Health Awareness, I encourage you to be mindful of what you’re doing for yourself moment-by-moment to tune into your emotional and physical needs. Here are a few professional suggestions to help get back to safe waters:

Connect with people.

Take stock of those who lift you up and help you feel good. Who can you be vulnerable with? Who do you trust? Seek these people out.

Create rituals.

Forming habits helps you feel stable and secure. Unfortunately, we tossed aside many of the routines and traditions we depend on for stability during the pandemic. We forget that small things help keep us grounded. 

Get empowered.

Positive self-talk does help. Create phrases that help you feel empowered, strong, and courageous. Remind your body and brain how capable, wise, and worthy you are.

Learn stress relief strategies.

Imagine a “safe place” in your mind that you can go to when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, and maxed out. Wherever that place is (and it can be anywhere that helps you feel calm), take deep, long breaths while mentally putting yourself in that space. This will move you from trauma’s “fight or flight” into a calming place. Doing this over and over will build back your emotional strength. 

You aren’t alone. We’ve all struggled during the pandemic, and getting back on track will happen. The stress we’ve all felt during the past two years looks different for everyone, but IT’S THERE. So give yourself grace as you release the fear we all had to varying degrees and create an even more robust, more resilient foundation in your current life. 

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby. By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps). Jennifer is a mom of twins, two 15 year olds. Her youngest is...a joy. Let's just stop there. Most days you can find her in her office seeing clients, doing laundry, loading or unloading the dishwasher, or catching up on the latest episode of Real Housewives of (Insert City Here), Walking Dead or This Is Us. She is a tree-hugging country girl from West Texas who reads, writes, and teaches about human development and families as a hobby and profession. You can read more from Jennifer at her therapy blog, ichoosechange.com