Stress-free Job Search

Stress-free Job Search

Advice from Wendy Smith; Career Coach and author of The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book – order on Amazon

Stress-free Job Search – looking for work is often a very stressful experience. This is particularly so if you haven’t chose to chosen to leave your job and/or you have searched for a job for a long time. But there are ways that you can cut that stress and here is some advice.

We feel stressed when we perceive a threat. If you are unemployed and worried about the future for you, and those you love, that certainly feels threatening.

The effects of stress

When we feel threatened, the nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones. These include adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed your reaction time, and enhance your focus. And they prepare you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand. This is helpful in an emergency and it can be helpful in raising performance temporarily. But if you stay in this state for too long damage can be caused to both your body and your mind.

Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. And chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. Among other things, it can raise blood pressure or suppress you immune system making you more vulnerable to infection, as well as increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Long term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

Stress-free Job Search – here’s how you can limit the stress

Accepting that you are likely to suffer a degree of stress in job search, there are the ways you can limit the amount of stress you have to suffer. Here is how you get closer to stress-free job search

First, it can be helpful to have a regular routine to your day. This should be very much modelled on the working life pattern you are used to. But make sure you leave enough time in the day for regular meals and exercise. Then you can sharpen your time management skills so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the challenges ahead. For example, set realistic goals, set regular progress reviews and adjust your goals as needed. Make and manage a priority to do list and block out time in your diary to work on particular parts of your job search project without interruption.

Keep perspective! When your job search is stressful, it can feel as if it’s taking over your life. To maintain perspective, talk to people you trust about the challenges you’re facing. They might be able to give insights or offer suggestions for coping. Sometimes simply talking about difficulties can relieve stress.

Take care of yourself

Take a break. Even a few minutes of personal time during your day can be refreshing. Don’t be afraid to take some breaks from your job search, just as you would at work. This could be the occasional long weekend or a short holiday, if you can afford it.

Have an outlet and set aside time for activities you enjoy. These could be walking, reading, socializing or pursuing a hobby.

Make sure you take care of yourself. So, include physical activity in your daily routine, get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy diet.

Don’t be afraid to seek help if none of the above is really helping and you continue to feel overwhelmed. Please consult your doctor, counsellor or coach for advice on how to cut the levels of stress in your life before it causes you real harm.

Stress-free Job Search – over the last year, I’ve worked with a number of clients who thought they had no chance of securing a good job again. That was a very stressful experience for them. They are now in work and happy.  So, if I can do anything to help you, please get in touch.

Other resources to help your job search

In the job market, there are always lots of useful techniques to learn or to refresh. From writing a modern CV to wooing at the interview, you’ll find lots of tips in my handy little pocket-book.

Stress-free Job Search
A concise and practical little workbook. For all who have the courage to go out and learn the new skills necessary to find a job now.

A concise and practical little work book, it is for all who have the courage to go out and learn the new skills necessary to find a job now.

Find this and my other books on my Amazon page at this link; http://ow.ly/BRSAL

Remember working with a career coach can really help both  job search and career resilience. Get in touch at the Facing a mid-career dilemmaemail address below – I offer a free half hour trial session by phone or Skype.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. 

Need help finding work, with problems at work, at home or with relationships? Book your free 30 minute, no obligation, trial coaching session with Wendy Smith now at this Link 

Managing traumatic stress

Managing traumatic stress

Managing traumatic stress – given this time when trauma and distress are so common, I thought it useful to  re-publish this piece from the American Psychological Association Help Centre 

Managing traumatic stress – Tips for recovering from disasters and other traumatic events

Disasters are often unexpected, sudden and overwhelming. In some cases, there are no outwardly visible signs of physical injury, but there is nonetheless a serious emotional toll. It is common for people who have experienced traumatic situations to have very strong emotional reactions. Understanding normal responses to these abnormal events can aid you in coping effectively with your feelings, thoughts and behaviours, and help you along the path to recovery.

What happens to people after a disaster or other traumatic event?

Shock and denial are typical responses to traumatic events and disasters, especially shortly after the event. Both shock and denial are normal protective reactions.

Shock is a sudden and often intense disturbance of your emotional state that may leave you feeling stunned or dazed. Denial involves not acknowledging that something very stressful has happened, or not experiencing fully the intensity of the event. You may temporarily feel numb or disconnected from life.

As the initial shock subsides, reactions vary from one person to another. The following, however, are normal responses to a traumatic event:

  • Feelings become intense and sometimes are unpredictable. You may become more irritable than usual, and your mood may change back and forth dramatically. You might be especially anxious or nervous, or even become depressed.
  • Thoughts and behavior patterns are affected by the trauma. You might have repeated and vivid memories of the event. These flashbacks may occur for no apparent reason and may lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating. You may find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions, or become more easily confused. Sleep and eating patterns also may be disrupted.
  • Recurring emotional reactions are common. Anniversaries of the event, such as at one month or one year, can trigger upsetting memories of the traumatic experience. These “triggers” may be accompanied by fears that the stressful event will be repeated.
  • Interpersonal relationships often become strained. Greater conflict, such as more frequent arguments with family members and coworkers, is common. On the other hand, you might become withdrawn and isolated and avoid your usual activities.
  • Physical symptoms may accompany the extreme stress. For example, headaches, nausea and chest pain may result and may require medical attention. Pre-existing medical conditions may worsen due to the stress.

Managing traumatic stress – how do people respond differently over time?

It is important for you to realize that there is not one “standard” pattern of reaction to the extreme stress of traumatic experiences. Some people respond immediately, while others have delayed reactions — sometimes months or even years later. Some have adverse effects for a long period of time, while others recover rather quickly.

And reactions can change over time. Some who have suffered from trauma are energized initially by the event to help them with the challenge of coping, only to later become discouraged or depressed.

A number of factors tend to affect the length of time required for recovery in managing traumatic stress , including:

  • The degree of intensity and loss. Events that last longer and pose a greater threat, and where loss of life or substantial loss of property is involved, often take longer to resolve.
  • A person’s general ability to cope with emotionally challenging situations. Individuals who have handled other difficult, stressful circumstances well may find it easier to cope with the trauma.
  • Other stressful events preceding the traumatic experience. Individuals faced with other emotionally challenging situations, such as serious health problems or family-related difficulties, may have more intense reactions to the new stressful event and need more time to recover.

How should I help myself and my family?

There are a number of steps you can take to help restore emotional well-being and a sense of control following a disaster or other traumatic experience, including the following:

  • Give yourself time to adjust. Anticipate that this will be a difficult time in your life. Allow yourself to mourn the losses you have experienced. Try to be patient with changes in your emotional state.
  • Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen and empathize with your situation. But keep in mind that your typical support system may be weakened if those who are close to you also have experienced or witnessed the trauma.
  • Communicate your experience. In whatever ways feel comfortable to you — such as by talking with family or close friends, or keeping a diary.
  • Find out about local support groups that often are available. Such as for those who have suffered from natural disasters or other traumatic events. These can be especially helpful for people with limited personal support systems.
  • Try to find groups led by appropriately trained and experienced professionals. Group discussion can help people realize that other individuals in the same circumstances often have similar reactions and emotions.
  • Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. If you experience ongoing difficulties with sleep, you may be able to find some relief through relaxation techniques. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Establish or reestablish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. Take some time off from the demands of daily life by pursuing hobbies or other enjoyable activities.
  • Avoid major life decisions such as switching careers or jobs if possible. These activities tend to be highly stressful.

When should I seek professional help?

Some people are able to cope effectively with the emotional and physical demands brought about by traumatic events by using their own support systems. It is not unusual, however, to find that serious problems persist and continue to interfere with daily living. For example, some may feel overwhelming nervousness or lingering sadness that adversely affects job performance and interpersonal relationships.

Individuals with prolonged reactions that disrupt their daily functioning should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional. Psychologists and other appropriate mental health providers help educate people about normal responses to extreme stress. These professionals work with individuals affected by trauma to help them find constructive ways of dealing with the emotional impact.

With children, continual and aggressive emotional outbursts, serious problems at school, preoccupation with the traumatic event, continued and extreme withdrawal, and other signs of intense anxiety or emotional difficulties all point to the need for professional assistance. A qualified mental health professional can help in managing traumatic stress for such children and their parents understand and deal with thoughts, feelings and behaviours that result from trauma.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach
Wendy Smith, Principal Coach, WiseWolf Life and Career Coaching

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link

         

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When you feel confused

When you feel confused

Personal development: When you feel confused

When you feel confused – are you feeling confused right now?

There all kind of occasions when you might feel confused at work or at home.

Sometimes you just need more information for things to become clear.  Then the priority is to stay calm and find that information.

At other times, things are more complex and even with more information you stay confused.

What can you do about confusion?

Remaining calm is always important when dealing with confusion. If that is difficult, take some time out to use a simple relaxation technique like the one at this link.

Then it is time to think and to put the pieces of your jigsaw puzzle into place so you can see a picture you recognise.

What do you feel when you think about your problem? Your feelings are often a key to the real solution. But make sure you really are calm when you consider your feelings – feelings of panic just add to your confusion.

Think about your personal values and priorities and what is truly important to you; not just for today but over the coming months.

Does setting what is really important to you against the problem help to make things clearer?

If not, then try writing down what you know, how you feel about the issues and what you would like to happen. Sometimes, writing things down gives clarity.

Consider talking to someone. Do you have a trusted friend that you can discuss this with? Often talking helps you find a solution.

If you stay confused and the issues are important consider talking to someone like me – a coach. We are trained to help you have a conversation with yourself that should clear your mind and cut through the confusion.

 

Remember working with a coach can really help you to feel happier. Get in touch at the Facing a mid-career dilemmaemail address below – I offer a free half hour trial session by phone or Skype.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. 

Need help finding work, with problems at work, at home or with relationships? Book your free 30 minute, no obligation, trial coaching session with Wendy Smith now at this Link 

Welcome to the WiseWolf Christmas Newsletter for 2013

Welcome to the WiseWolf Christmas Newsletter for  2013


So Christmas comes round once again and, of course, much more quickly than we expect. 

2013 has been a momentous year for me, full of a rich mixture of highs and lows. I’ve had an opportunity to work with some amazing clients which is always inspiring. I go on learning – in November I was awarded an advanced diploma in life coaching with a distinction. And this year I published my first novel with a second one in October. Now I’m working on book three together with a television play – so 2014 should be exciting. But there has been sadness this year too; like many others, I’ve lost people that I love.

I hope that 2013 for you has had far more ups than downs and that you finish the year with a real appreciation of all that you have achieved so far. December is a great month to take stock and one of the articles below is intended to help you do just that.

You can read the rest of the Newsletter at the link below with news of a special offerand articles to help you to manage the stress of Christmas, a guide to handling the Office Party and how to do a personal stock-take to help you make a positive start to 2014.

Click here for Christmas Greetings From WiseWolf




Christmas Stress – Here is Help!

Christmas Stress – here is help!

Christmas stress! Stressful situations can happen at home as well as at work and Christmas is a particularly stressful time. If you’ve coped with a lot of stress at work then dealing with the extra stress of Christmas at home may make you feel overwhelmed.

What happens in stress is that your body goes into overdrive and you may find yourself with

  • Pounding heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Feeling faint
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • With shaking limbs and jelly legs

Now, of course, chest pains and breathlessness should be checked out with a medical adviser. But all these symptoms can be exaggerations of your body’s normal response to fear or stress (the “fight or flight” mechanism). They can feel very frightening in themselves and that makes things worse. But once you’ve checked with a doctor, you need to keep in mind that they are not dangerous or harmful provided you take action to help you handle the stress.

They are happening because your body is flooded with stress hormones such as adrenaline and corticosteroid. They were helpful when we had to run away from dangerous animal but now they produce those frightening symptoms.

So what can you do to feel better.

  1. First recognise the symptoms for what they are.  If it is possible to remove any of the pressures on you, then do so. Use the same techniques you would use at work to organise and prioritize any work you have to do at home.
  2. Start to control you thoughts – when anxious thoughts and worries come into your head take a pause and start to repeat to yourself quietly; “This will pass.” Each time a negative thought comes into your head say it again, until the new thought replaces the negative one. And you know at Christmastime that the 2nd of January does come round remarkably quickly.
  3. Have little stock of things you enjoy, such as, music on your iPod, or in my case very old BBC Radio comedies. Even if you can only find 10 minutes alone to enjoy to them, do so everyday.
  4. Be quite ruthless in protecting yourself from the harmful effect of negative friends and relatives. If you have to spend time with them then make sure you take regular breaks and reward your self for your patience in dealing with them.
  5. Avoid over eating and drinking too much but make sure you have a little of everything that you enjoy.
  6. If it is at all possible take short walk in the open air each day.
  7. Recognise that this is an emotionally demanding time and if you feel like having a good cry then do so – tears can be a very healthy response to the feelings within us.
  8. Practice relaxed breathing – the technique is described below

Christmas Stress! Relaxed breathing can help

Practise deep breathing at a regular time and in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.

Loosen or remove any tight clothes, such as shoes or jackets. Make yourself feel completely comfortable.

Sit in a comfy chair which supports your head or lie on the floor or bed. Place your arms on the chair arms, or flat on the floor or bed, a little bit away from the side of your body with the palms up. If you’re lying down, stretch out your legs, keeping them hip-width apart or slightly wider. If you’re sitting in a chair, don’t cross your legs.

Good relaxation always starts with focusing on your breathing. The way to do it is to breathe in and out slowly and in a regular rhythm as this will help you to calm down.

Fill up the whole of your lungs with air, without forcing. Imagine you’re filling up a bottle, so that your lungs fill from the bottom:

  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Breathe in slowly and regularly counting from one to five (don’t worry if you can’t reach five at first).
  • Then let the breath escape slowly, counting from one to five.

Keep doing this until you feel calm. Breathe without pausing or holding your breath.

Practise this relaxed breathing for three to five minutes, two to three times a day (or whenever you feel stressed).

I wish you the happiest holidays and if I you need help to handle the after shock, please get in touch.

Remember I offer a trial free half hour coaching session by phone or Skype.

Warm regards

Wendy
wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com
http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Christmas can be stressful – here is help!

Christmas can be stressful – here is help!

Advice from Wendy Smith. Wendy is a Career and Life Coach helping youfind fresh perspectives on life and your career.  You can book a FREE coaching session or find out more at this link

Christmas can be stressful  – stressful situations can happen at home as well as at work and Christmas is a particularly stressful time. If you’ve coped with a lot of stress at work then dealing with the extra stress of Christmas at home may make you feel overwhelmed.

Christmas can be stressful – symptoms

What happens in stress is that your body goes into overdrive and you may find yourself with

  • Pounding heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Feeling faint
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • With shaking limbs and jelly legs

Now, of course, chest pains and breathlessness should be checked out with a medical adviser. But all these symptoms can be exaggerations of your body’s normal response to fear or stress (the “fight or flight” mechanism). They can feel very frightening in themselves and that makes things worse. But once you’ve checked with a doctor, you need to keep in mind that they are not dangerous or harmful provided you take action to help you handle the stress.

They are happening because your body is flooded with stress hormones such as adrenaline and corticosteroid. They were helpful when we had to run away from dangerous animal but now they produce those frightening symptoms.

So what can you do to feel better.

  1. First recognise the symptoms for what they are.  If it is possible to remove any of the pressures on you, then do so. Use the same techniques you would use at work to organise and prioritize any work you have to do at home.
  2. Start to control you thoughts – when anxious thoughts and worries come into your head take a pause and start to repeat to yourself quietly; “This will pass.” Each time a negative thought comes into your head say it again, until the new thought replaces the negative one. And you know at Christmastime that the 2nd of January does come round remarkably quickly.
  3. Have little stock of things you enjoy, such as, music on your iPod, or in my case very old BBC Radio comedies. Even if you can only find 10 minutes alone to enjoy to them, do so everyday.
  4. Be quite ruthless in protecting yourself from the harmful effect of negative friends and relatives. If you have to spend time with them then make sure you take regular breaks and reward your self for your patience in dealing with them.
  5. Avoid over eating and drinking too much but make sure you have a little of everything that you enjoy.
  6. If it is at all possible take short walk in the open air each day.
  7. Recognise that this is an emotionally demanding time and if you feel like having a good cry then do so – tears can be a very healthy response to the feelings within us.
  8. Practice relaxed breathing – the technique is described below

Relaxed breathing

Practise deep breathing at a regular time and in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.

Loosen or remove any tight clothes, such as shoes or jackets. Make yourself feel completely comfortable.

Sit in a comfy chair which supports your head or lie on the floor or bed. Place your arms on the chair arms, or flat on the floor or bed, a little bit away from the side of your body with the palms up. If you’re lying down, stretch out your legs, keeping them hip-width apart or slightly wider. If you’re sitting in a chair, don’t cross your legs.

Good relaxation always starts with focusing on your breathing. The way to do it is to breathe in and out slowly and in a regular rhythm as this will help you to calm down.

Fill up the whole of your lungs with air, without forcing. Imagine you’re filling up a bottle, so that your lungs fill from the bottom:

  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Breathe in slowly and regularly counting from one to five (don’t worry if you can’t reach five at first).
  • Then let the breath escape slowly, counting from one to five.

Keep doing this until you feel calm. Breathe without pausing or holding your breath.

Practise this relaxed breathing for three to five minutes, two to three times a day (or whenever you feel stressed).

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in helping people lead happier lives and feel more fulfilled. She has worked in management as well as coaching and personal development, as well as starting up her own businesses. That means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up a new business or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. 

Need help finding work, with problems at work, at home or with relationships? Book a FREE coaching session with Wendy or find out more at this link

Stress and the HR Professional

 Stress and the HR Professional

Human Resources UK is the leading LinkedIn group dedicated to those involved in HR in the UK.  Discuss HR is the HR blog written by Human Resources UK. I am one of the Discuss HR team of writers and yesterday a post I wrote on stress and the HR professional was published.

HR staff are under constant pressure in the current economic climate.  While they are great at advising others on the management of stress, I suspect they may not be so good at identifying and managing their own.

Anyway here is a link to the post and I would very much welcome your views; http://discusshr.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/stress-and-hr-professional.html

Wendy Smith is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Stress-Reducing Techniques to Help Cope with School or College

Stress-Reducing Techniques to Help Cope with School or College

Today we have a guest post from Isaiah Banks who is a full-time graduate student studying health care administration. During his undergraduate studies, he realized academic stress was overtaking his life. He investigated stress-reducing techniques, which allowed him to study effectively and, he hopes, will eventually prepare him for healthcare management jobs. 

Image provided by Sara V. from Flickr’s Creative Commons

It’s no secret that school can be stressful. Pursuing a degree requires a student to perform at his or her absolute best. If this stress is left unchecked, it can be devastating to a student’s overall success, not to mention their entire well-being.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to keep stress in check. Each technique will work differently, depending on your preferences as well as your mind and body. Take time to thoroughly practice each to find one, or even several,  that will work best for you.

Techniques to Reduce Your Stress

The can significantly below reduce stress. Explore these strategies until you find one that is right for you.

  • Meditation The state of your body and mind have a profound effect on your ability to handle pressure and conflicts. Pressure from professors, as well as internal conflicts, are a major source of stress. Regularly meditating can prevent stress from building up. Take time at the beginning of each day to sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Attempt to clear your mind by focusing entirely on your breath. Count the length of your inhales and your exhales. This will provide your brain with more oxygen, and you’ll start the day with a clear head.
  • Time ManagementOne of the biggest sources of stress in a student’s life is worry. They worry about not getting everything done, worry about upcoming projects and worry about fitting in an active social life. However, this source of stress can be entirely eliminated by enacting a time management strategy. At the beginning of each week, create a schedule with everything you are required to complete. Include studying, classroom hours and projects that are due. Now, you can clearly see how the week ahead of you will transpire.
  • Proper NutritionAccording to the Mayo Clinic, having a well-balanced diet can alleviate stress by providing your mind and body the nutrients they need to function. When you do not receive required nutrients, your body goes into panic mode. This is aggravated by the external stresses of school. Depending on your degree, you may be aware that nutrition has a profound effect on a person’s ability to think clearly. Someone pursuing a master in health administration or a similar degree has likely covered this phenomenon in their studies.
  • Leisure TimeSchedule time to do whatever it is that you enjoy — whether this means relaxing on the couch, sitting by the pool or spending time with friends. Leisure time can help you process and release accumulated stress. Make an effort to not think or talk about your studies to maximize the quality of your leisure time.
  • Disconnecting from ElectronicsThe modern world is one of constant connection. It’s important to take time out of your day to disconnect. Turn off your laptop, smartphone and tablet. Don’t turn on the TV, either. Simply relax by yourself without having to process any external stimuli. This will significantly allow you to reduce and release stress.

Stress Can Be Avoidable

Carefully explore the above techniques to become a considerably less-stressed student. You’ve taken time to study, completed projects and done everything in your power to earn high grades. You owe it to yourself to put this same amount of effort into finding a way to reduce stress throughout your education. Not only will mastering one or two of these techniques help you make the most of your studies, it will also help you in your career and personal life. Forming a lifelong habit to cut down on stress can lead to a longer, happier and altogether more fulfilling life.

About the Author: Isaiah Banks is a full-time graduate student studying health care administration. During his undergraduate studies, he realized academic stress was overtaking his life. He investigated stress-reducing techniques, which allowed him to study effectively and, he hopes, will eventually prepare him for healthcare management jobs. 

Managing traumatic stress: Tips for recovering from disasters and other traumatic events

Given this time when trauma and distress are so common, I thought it useful to publish this piece from the American Psychological Association Help Centre at  http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/recovering-disasters.aspx

Managing traumatic stress: Tips for recovering from disasters and other traumatic events

Disasters are often unexpected, sudden and overwhelming. In some cases, there are no outwardly visible signs of physical injury, but there is nonetheless a serious emotional toll. It is common for people who have experienced traumatic situations to have very strong emotional reactions. Understanding normal responses to these abnormal events can aid you in coping effectively with your feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and help you along the path to recovery.

What happens to people after a disaster or other traumatic event?

Shock and denial are typical responses to traumatic events and disasters, especially shortly after the event. Both shock and denial are normal protective reactions.

Shock is a sudden and often intense disturbance of your emotional state that may leave you feeling stunned or dazed. Denial involves not acknowledging that something very stressful has happened, or not experiencing fully the intensity of the event. You may temporarily feel numb or disconnected from life.

As the initial shock subsides, reactions vary from one person to another. The following, however, are normal responses to a traumatic event:

  • Feelings become intense and sometimes are unpredictable. You may become more irritable than usual, and your mood may change back and forth dramatically. You might be especially anxious or nervous, or even become depressed.
  • Thoughts and behavior patterns are affected by the trauma. You might have repeated and vivid memories of the event. These flashbacks may occur for no apparent reason and may lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating. You may find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions, or become more easily confused. Sleep and eating patterns also may be disrupted.
  • Recurring emotional reactions are common. Anniversaries of the event, such as at one month or one year, can trigger upsetting memories of the traumatic experience. These “triggers” may be accompanied by fears that the stressful event will be repeated.
  • Interpersonal relationships often become strained. Greater conflict, such as more frequent arguments with family members and coworkers, is common. On the other hand, you might become withdrawn and isolated and avoid your usual activities.
  • Physical symptoms may accompany the extreme stress. For example, headaches, nausea and chest pain may result and may require medical attention. Pre-existing medical conditions may worsen due to the stress.

How do people respond differently over time?

It is important for you to realize that there is not one “standard” pattern of reaction to the extreme stress of traumatic experiences. Some people respond immediately, while others have delayed reactions — sometimes months or even years later. Some have adverse effects for a long period of time, while others recover rather quickly.

And reactions can change over time. Some who have suffered from trauma are energized initially by the event to help them with the challenge of coping, only to later become discouraged or depressed.

A number of factors tend to affect the length of time required for recovery, including:

  • The degree of intensity and loss. Events that last longer and pose a greater threat, and where loss of life or substantial loss of property is involved, often take longer to resolve.
  • A person’s general ability to cope with emotionally challenging situations. Individuals who have handled other difficult, stressful circumstances well may find it easier to cope with the trauma.
  • Other stressful events preceding the traumatic experience. Individuals faced with other emotionally challenging situations, such as serious health problems or family-related difficulties, may have more intense reactions to the new stressful event and need more time to recover.

How should I help myself and my family?

There are a number of steps you can take to help restore emotional well-being and a sense of control following a disaster or other traumatic experience, including the following:

  • Give yourself time to adjust. Anticipate that this will be a difficult time in your life. Allow yourself to mourn the losses you have experienced. Try to be patient with changes in your emotional state.
  • Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen and empathize with your situation. But keep in mind that your typical support system may be weakened if those who are close to you also have experienced or witnessed the trauma.
  • Communicate your experience. In whatever ways feel comfortable to you — such as by talking with family or close friends, or keeping a diary.
  • Find out about local support groups that often are available. Such as for those who have suffered from natural disasters or other traumatic events. These can be especially helpful for people with limited personal support systems.
  • Try to find groups led by appropriately trained and experienced professionals. Group discussion can help people realize that other individuals in the same circumstances often have similar reactions and emotions.
  • Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. If you experience ongoing difficulties with sleep, you may be able to find some relief through relaxation techniques. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Establish or reestablish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. Take some time off from the demands of daily life by pursuing hobbies or other enjoyable activities.
  • Avoid major life decisions such as switching careers or jobs if possible. These activities tend to be highly stressful.

When should I seek professional help?

Some people are able to cope effectively with the emotional and physical demands brought about by traumatic events by using their own support systems. It is not unusual, however, to find that serious problems persist and continue to interfere with daily living. For example, some may feel overwhelming nervousness or lingering sadness that adversely affects job performance and interpersonal relationships.

Individuals with prolonged reactions that disrupt their daily functioning should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional. Psychologists and other appropriate mental health providers help educate people about normal responses to extreme stress. These professionals work with individuals affected by trauma to help them find constructive ways of dealing with the emotional impact.

With children, continual and aggressive emotional outbursts, serious problems at school, preoccupation with the traumatic event, continued and extreme withdrawal, and other signs of intense anxiety or emotional difficulties all point to the need for professional assistance. A qualified mental health professional can help such children and their parents understand and deal with thoughts, feelings and behaviors that result from trauma.

Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Poor work-life balance?

 Poor work-life balance?

Do you think you have a  poor work-life balance and is it stressing you out? I’ve been there and got the tea-shirt in coping with work-life balance problems and I know that I can help you.
You know you have a work-life balance problem when you
  • Don’t have enough time for everything and spend what time you have handling scheduling conflicts,
  • Feel stressed and overwhelmed by trying to balance your different roles.
Find out more on  WiseWolf’s Your Happiness Factor Blog at this link

Are you stressed-out by your poor work-life balance?

Working with a coach really can make your life zing! Get in touch at the email email address below.
Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business CoachWendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find all her books on Amazon at this link