Blog: Perspective on Trauma

Managing Stress in Times of Difficulty

by LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW on April 25, 2020 No comments

As the world around us unfolds into a new reality, we too are required to change with what is taking shape. This unsettling reality, if one is paying attention, is highly painful. If you are paying attention you are intensely aware of the staggering multi-layered loss across our globe, the immediate impact on your community, those you love, and your own experience.

Our current environment is laden with traumatic content. Even if you have had no prior experience with trauma and loss this current reality has the potential to impact your emotional well being and leave a lasting impact. For those who have been exposed to trauma, in their own history, an increased possibility of experiencing trauma symptomatology would be highly likely.

We, as humans, are equipped with an internal system which aides us in times of danger. This, in simplistic terms, is known as the stress response. The “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction to perceived or real danger. During threat our brains and bodies work in unison to help us respond to the current threat or stressor. At this current time, we are living with daily prolonged stress. Many of us are in “shelter in place” or “stay at home orders”. We may be ill or fear becoming ill, some one we love may be ill, or we may be losing or have already lost someone. We may be experiencing, hearing of, or living in fear of impending financial stress. We may be physically disconnected from those we love or relied upon for social and spiritual contact. And, many other possible scenarios. Our worlds (in a very short time) have become very limited, with an immediate stressor outside and around us, and with very little researched information on what to expect.

These are traumatic happenings. This is true whether we are experiencing it first hand or hearing about it on a daily basis. And, as is normal our bodies and brains will work, to the very best of their ability, to help us manage. The primary issue with prolonged or chronic stress is that our body’s natural defense (it’s stress response) can (again in simplistic terms) become overworked and depleted. It can, in essence, become stuck in overdrive. If this occurs, other issues will follow.

For those who have been previously exposed (dependent on healing opportunities that have occurred and current supports) a re-emergence (triggering) of symptomatology can occur. Reactions to and symptoms of trauma are always on a continuum and always very individualized. But, in truth whether we have been previously exposed to trauma and loss or if this is a new experience for us what is occurring now has the potential to be traumatizing for many. Due to this, the implication for longer term emotional and physical health issues exist.

It is normal during periods of high stress to reach for that which brings quick relief. The intention is to stop the pain of inner turmoil. This has already, in the few short months the pandemic has been a reality,  lead to increased rates of over dose, suicidality, and victimization of vulnerable others. It is anticipated these issues will continue to rise.

General reactions to trauma include (but are not limited to),anxiety and worry, depression, difficulty with concentration and memory, feeling detached or overwhelmed, experiencing sleep distress, avoidance, irritability, anger outbursts, over or under alertness, physical pains, increased startle response, irrational fear, overthinking, intrusive unwanted thoughts and feelings, impending sense of doom, hopelessness, helplessness, thoughts of self harm, and /or beliefs that yourself, others, or the larger world are unsafe, bad, can’t be trusted, and many others.


You may find that you are experiencing some of the reactions to (or symptoms of) trauma. This would not be considered abnormal in our current climate. In instances where symptoms interfere with normative functioning accessing support in the form of counseling is highly recommended. This is an important step for both yourself and those you love.

While it is true we can’t change what is happening around us, we can be intentional in how we navigate this time in our lives. It is this intentional effort that will help lessen longer term impact. And, while it sounds almost too simple the best things we can do are very basic things. Further, very basic things done on a consistent basis.

It is highly important that we are limiting and balancing our news intake, staying hydrated, getting uninterrupted and enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, getting daily exercise, resting (meaning relaxing or doing activities that bring us peace), engaging in (in the ways we currently can) connection with self, other, and our (as we know it) higher self or power. And, most importantly finding  ways to express what we are experiencing in response to the changing world around us.

Overall it is important that we make well-being a priority. This is true whether you are experiencing normative reactions to traumatic happenings, or if you are experiencing symptoms that are causing higher level distress. Again, in these instances it is important to seek the support of your medical or behavioral health provider. Local and national resources follow.

Lastly, there are many among us who aren’t able to safely shelter in place . They don’t have the option to stay home. Doing what we realistically can to help others lessens their fear and burdens and is a solid way to maintain a sense of connection and hope for them and you.

Following are local and national crisis support services.

Local Supports: The Spokane County Regional Crisis Line 1-(877) 288-1818. End Harm (Child Abuse and Neglect Report Line) 1 (800) 562-5624 The YWCA Domestic Violence Program (509) 326-1190. The Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Counsel (509) 922-8383 Lutheran Community Services Sexual Assault Crisis Line (509) 624-7273 Dial 211″ for additional resources.

National Supports: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-(800) 273-8255. The National Children’s Advocacy Center 1 (800) 422-4453 The SAMSHA Treatment Locator (for treatment of alcohol or substance addiction) 1 (800) 662-4357. The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 (800) 787-3224. The National Sexual Assault Hotline 1 (800) 565-4673

Professional Disclaimer: It is important to recognize that all information contained in the Perspective on Trauma Blog is informational, and is not intended as a substitute for clinical care. It is not possible to provide informed care through web content, as an informed treatment relationship cannot be formed. If you or a loved one is in need of care, it is important that you access this care from your own care provider.

Agreement of Use: In consideration for your use of and access to the Perspective on Trauma Blog, you agree that LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSW is not liable to you for any action or non-action you may take in reliance upon information from the blog. As noted, it is not possible to provide informed (personalized care) through blog content. It is your responsibility to seek individual clinical care from your own provider, who will know or learn your specific circumstances, should care be needed.

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LaDonna Remy MSW, LICSWManaging Stress in Times of Difficulty

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