for better mental health

Trauma

Explains what trauma is and how it affects your mental health, including how you can help yourself, what treatments are available and how to overcome barriers to getting the right support. Also includes tips for people who want to support someone who has gone through trauma.

This page is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is impacting all our lives, and we know that the usual advice might not quite apply. Some ideas for looking after yourself may feel unrealistic right now. And some treatment and support options will be harder to access, or may be unavailable for a while. But we hope that you can still find information here that helps you understand what you're going through, and find a path forward.
You can also find lots of resources in our coronavirus information hub. And our page of coronavirus useful contacts can direct you to more support.

Trauma can cause strong feelings and difficult experiences. While it can take time and support to be able to cope, there are things you can try that might help with what's happening right now.

Different things work at different times for different people, so try to be kind to yourself if some things don't help. Over time, you might develop your own tips too.

If you feel suicidal

Our page on suicidal feelings includes practical tips on what you can do right now to help yourself cope. If you don't feel able to keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help:

"I never feel safe, so building a sanctuary or finding a relaxing place to visit alone (such as a little bench in a park) can really help [me] feel secure."

What you could do to get through it:

  • tell yourself that you are safe
  • touch or hold an object that reminds you of the present
  • describe your surroundings out loud
  • count objects of a particular type or colour.

See our page on self-care for PTSD for more tips.

What you could do to get through it:

  • breathe slowly in and out while counting to five
  • stamp on the spot
  • taste mint-flavoured sweets or gum
  • touch or cuddle something soft.

See our page on panic attacks for more tips.

What you could do to get through it:

  • chew a piece of ginger or chilli
  • clap your hands and notice the stinging sensation
  • drink a glass of ice cold water.

See our page on self-care for dissociative disorders for more tips.

"Certain smells trigger me, such as alcohol or a certain colour. So for sensory grounding I make sure that I use non-triggering things."

What you could do to get through it:

  • make yourself a hot drink and drink it slowly, noticing the taste and smell, the shape of the mug and its weight in your hand
  • take ten deep breaths, counting each one out loud
  • write down everything you can think of about where you are right now, such as the time, date, colour of the walls and the furniture in the room
  • take a warm bath or shower – this can help change your mood by creating a soothing atmosphere and a distracting physical sensation.

See our page on self-care for anxiety for more tips.

What you could do to get through it:

  • wrap up in a blanket and watch your favourite TV show
  • write all your negative feelings on a piece of paper and tear it up
  • listen to a song or piece of music you find uplifting
  • write a comforting letter to the part of yourself that is feeling sad or alone
  • cuddle a pet or a soft toy.

See our page on self-care for depression for more tips.

"Keeping a note of the positive things that happen each day in a notebook [helps], even if I've had a bad day."

What you could do to get through it:

  • rub ice over where you want to hurt yourself
  • stick sellotape or a plaster on your skin and peel it off
  • take a cold bath.

See our page on helping yourself cope with self-harm for more tips.

"Music always helps me. Lying down with my headphones on and blocking out the world is the best way [for me] to stop panic/overthinking."

You can find more examples of tips and suggestions on the PODS, First Person Plural and Cwm Taf websites.

The One in Four website has some self-care tips which are particularly aimed at people who have been raped or sexually abused, and may also be helpful for coping with other types of trauma.

Talking about panic attacks

Watch Lewis, Polly, Faisal, Shelley and Brian talk about what it's like to have a panic attack and what has helped them cope in this video.

"Journalling helps me process stuff when my hands let me. [...] You can choose what to do with it later, shred it, burn it safely... whatever feels right in the moment."

This information was published in January 2020. We will revise it in 2022.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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