20/20 Vision On Wellness for Managers & Counsellors
Counsellors and managers are under a lot of work-related pressure at this time of the year. In this year our country experienced a lot of economic challenges that had a direct impact on the workplace and households.
If you are in a position where you had to retrench colleagues or had to deal with trauma, the cumulative effect of these challenges will affect the way you function. One of the most important ways workplace trials affect you is in the manner your brain functions.
There are, for example, three separate attention processes, allowing you to be alert, to orient and to have executive control. At work, you are required to be alert for long periods of time. You also need to select and prioritise useful sensory input, while resolving what to pay attention to. The executive control in your brain is especially important when the available information is in any form of conflict.
The more trauma you had to deal with, the more these three mental processes are under pressure. However, moving towards the end of the year and starting 2020 is the perfect time to go back to basics. Basics of self-care and management, because many things went wrong in the past year as a result of basic principles that were ignored.
Remember to take care of your own emotional injuries that come from memories of the traumatic experiences of this year.
You can cope with traumatic experiences if left to your own devices and you are responsible for your own emotional well-being.
You may be in a place where you are reliving some experiences in nightmares, intrusive memories, flashbacks, and physical reactions to anything that serves as a reminder of the experience. This leads to efforts to avoid people, places, activities, feelings, and thoughts that bring the experience to mind. It also leads to a loss of interest in everyday activities, feelings of emotional numbness and estrangement, and an inability to recall aspects of the experiences.
You may experience heightened arousal or vigilance, which is evident in irritability, emotional outbursts, insomnia, poor concentration, and a tendency to be easily startled and constantly on guard.
Coping with the consequences of a traumatic experience can leave you struggling, gasping for breath as you try your hardest to cope with the emotions you’re unable to handle.
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of exposure to extremely stressful events that decimate your sense of security and make you feel helpless and vulnerable. While traumatic events often involve a threat to safety and life, any situation in which you are left feeling alone and overwhelmed – even if the situation does not cause physical damage – can be traumatic.
There are a number of strategies that can be put in place to help you resolve traumatic reactions at this time of the year:
- Recognise that you have been through a distressing or frightening experience and that you will have a reaction to it.
- Accept that you might not feel your normal self for a period of time, but that it will also eventually pass. This is especially true if someone passed away.
- Don’t overuse alcohol or drugs to help you cope.
- Avoid making major decisions or big life changes until you feel better.
- Gradually confront what has happened – don’t try to block the memories out.
- Don’t bottle up your feelings – talk to someone who can support and understand you.
- Try to keep to your normal routine, because there is emotional well-being in order.
- Don’t go out of your way to avoid certain places or activities. Don’t let the trauma confine your life, but take your time to get back to normal.
- When you feel fatigued, make sure you set aside time to rest.
- Make time for regular exercise – it helps to relax your body and mind of tension.
- Help your family and friends to help you by telling them what you need, such as time out or someone to talk to.
- When the trauma brings up memories or feelings, try to confront them. Think about them, then put them aside. If it brings up other past memories, try to keep them separate from the current problem and deal with them separately.
The normal healing and recovery process involves the body coming down out of a state of heightened arousal. Normally the internal alarms turn off, the high levels of energy subside, and the body re-sets itself to a normal state of balance and equilibrium.
If you are looking at this list of reactions at this stage of the year, you may find that you need a little bit more support and consider counselling for yourself. I offer counselling in adverse times, as well as a coaching programme for managers and business owners to “Manage Trauma Relief”.
More information about managing trauma is in our book, “Managing Trauma Relief” which is available online at www.BluEagle.co.za.