Take a moment to think about the word trauma. You might use it when you’re dramatizing a stressful situation (“Taking that French test was traumatic!”). And you probably hear it a lot on medical shows (“Get this patient to the trauma unit, stat!”). But do you know what it actually means? According to the American Psychiatric Association, trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event. Between remote learning, being isolated from friends and family, worrying about our health and our loved ones’ health, and possibly even losing someone close to us, the Covid-19 pandemic definitely counts as a terrible event. So most of us are probably at least a little bit traumatized by the past year (and counting).
The good news is, going through a trauma can actually help you cope with tough times in the future. Managing the hard emotions that come up during stressful situations can build resilience, which is the ability to recover from setbacks. The following five feelings are super-common ways of responding to trauma, so read on for some mental health expert-approved tips for processing traumatic events. (Bonus: Even if you’ve come through the pandemic A-OK, these tips are great to keep in your back pocket for any challenging situation.)