In addition to the lifestyle recommendations above, there are ways to build your emotional resilience to improve your mental health in the face of trauma. From breathing techniques to cultivating gratitude, these simple practices can be incorporated into your daily routine and help you relieve your stress.
Find ways to relax
Try to notice things around you if you feel overwhelmed and use your five senses: name two things that you can see, two things that you can hear, and two things that you can smell.
Take deep breaths to help your body get back to a resting state. One way to practice deep breathing is to pretend your belly is a balloon. Breathe in and make the balloon bigger, then breathe out and make the balloon shrink.
Practice using your imagination to think of positive images, such as being in a favorite spot, to help relax and reduce stress. An example of guided imagery could be found here by one of our pediatric psychologists: Guided Imagery: Leaves on a Stream.
Take charge of your thinking
Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself. Ask yourself, “What would I tell my friend if they were in this situation?” or “What’s the worst thing that could happen? If the worst thing DID happen, what could I do to handle it?”
When life is chaotic and unpredictable, it can be difficult to focus on the positive. However, there may be small moments in your day where things have gone well or you have experienced a random act of kindness, that you want to allow yourself time to reflect on.
Gratitude activities can include: Engaging in gratitude journals or gratitude check-ins by writing or telling someone you love about 3 things you are grateful for on a daily basis; writing thank you cards to people you appreciate or are grateful for; performing acts of kindness yourself by returning a favor to someone else or volunteering
Talk to your parent or caregiver if you are feeling sad, worried, angry or overwhelmed after experiencing a trauma. A therapist, such as a psychologist, social worker or counselor can help you understand and manage your moods and feelings.
You can call a helpline such as 1-800-273-TALK or Text “HOME” to 741741. Call 911 if you are in a crisis or want to hurt yourself.
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If your child expresses thoughts of wanting to harm themselves or others, call 9-1-1 or visit the nearest emergency department.
988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline:
Text any message to 9-8-8
Chat online at 988lifeline.org/chat
Crisis Text Line:
Text “HOME” to 741741
CDC Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)
Childhood trauma TED talk by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Center for Youth Wellness centerforyouthwellness.org
Find a mental health provider
Check your insurance website or the back of your insurance card.
Explore Psychology Today’s “Find a Therapist” tool.
Call CalOptima Behavioral Health (Orange County, CA).