When we experience something that is highly stressful or distressing, we don’t want to be reminded of it, often to the extent that we may avoid things that remind us of it, such as the place where it happened or the people connected with it. This is ok in the short term and can initially help us manage our distress. It becomes a problem though if we need to keep avoiding these things in order to cope.
Things that can help
Where possible, try not to avoid. For example, if you become aware that you’re working hard to avoid reminders of something unpleasant, it’s important to know that while this might reduce feelings of anxiety in the short-term, in the long run this can maintain your anxiety and reduce your quality of life. Remember that the event has passed. You can do this by focusing on differences between then and now and keeping yourself grounded in the present moment. If you find that you are avoiding particular activities or places, begin to tackle that avoidance by gradually exposing yourself to the activity or place.
It can be helpful to speak to others about these experiences, if you feel ready to do so. If you find these experiences persist or you find them highly distressing, speak to your GP who may be able to help.
Understanding responses to stress
This article is part of a series aimed at helping you understand responses to stress. Emergency situations, whether national, local, or within your team, are stressful and we want to equip you to manage them. There are a number of reactions that you or your colleagues might find yourself experiencing when faced with this stress, each article in this series is intended to help you overcome these.
You can read the other articles in the series by following the links below.
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