Tips for Managing Feeling and Emotions on the Anniversary of a Traumatic Event

aerial view of the historic 2019 flood

Tips for Managing Feeling and Emotions on the Anniversary of a Traumatic Event

Last year Nebraska experienced several disasters that changed individual, family and community life. As the calendar approaches the anniversary date, those impacted may experience strong emotions and feelings such as worry, anger, frustration, loss and sadness. It is important to remember that everyone is different and each individual will find their own way of coping with the memories. Reliving the sadness is a natural part of the healing process and it important to remember there is no one right way to heal.

Below are positive coping strategies to help you or a loved one through the anniversary of a traumatic event.

Acknowledge feelings

It is important to remember that some stress and emotional reactions will happen around the anniversary of an event. Acknowledging your feelings and allowing yourself to feel anger or sadness will help relieve some of the stress. Feelings are a part of the recovery process.

Engage in healthy ways to cope with stress

This can be different for every person. Some find engaging in exercise such as running, taking a walk, or doing yoga is a helpful way to cope with feelings, stress and memories. For others writing in a journal, reading, or being involved in a creative hobby relieves stress and provides an avenue of healing.

Be gentle with yourself

It can be easy to be too hard on oneself by questioning why the rebuilding and healing isn’t happening at a more rapid pace. Now is a time to practice self-compassion. Show yourself the same kindness and patience you have shown and given others. Take some time to celebrate your strength and reflect on how far you have come since the event.

Accept kindness and help with others

Allow the people in your life to show their care and concern. Take them up on their invitation for a cup coffee or dinner so they can support and console you. The support from others is essential to healing and recovery.

Use your social support system

During these times, relying on one’s social support system can be useful. Talking with trusted friends, family, or members of your faith community is a positive way to deal with all your feelings and memories of the past year. Expressing one’s gratitude for support and assistance throughout the year can also be helpful in the healing process.

Help others

Volunteering is a positive and healthy way to heal. Taking time to give back to the community through volunteer work or making a donation can provide a sense of satisfaction.

Know that it is common to experience a wide variety of emotions and feelings at the time of an anniversary. Use those around you to help aid in the healing process including professionals. Using the resources of mental health professionals shows courage and strength. The rural response hotline 800-464-0258 offers free counseling, financial and legal services. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-8255. Additional information to help you on your journey can be found at the Nebraska Extension Disaster website: https://disaster.unl.edu/disaster-anniversaries.