NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Self Help Strategies For Coping With an Anniversary of a Traumatic Event

Anniversaries of traumatic events often bring back emotions and thoughts associated with the original event.  This can include sadness, anxiety, anger and feelings of powerlessness as well as other reactions.

Coping With An Anniversary of a Traumatic Event

There is no one way to heal from trauma.  Each person will heal in their own way and in their own timeframe.  

Self Help Strategies For Coping With the Anniversary of a Traumatic Event
The following coping strategies can be helpful:
  • Know That Experiencing Distress on the Anniversary of a Traumatic Event is Common and Normal:  You're not alone.  Many people feel distressed on these anniversaries.  Feeling distressed is a common response.  You might find yourself remembering the event in more detail than you normally do as the anniversary brings back memories.
  • Acknowledge Your Thoughts and Emotions: Rather than trying to suppress emotions and thoughts that might be uncomfortable for you, acknowledge them.  Suppressing thoughts and emotions will only intensify them, so set aside some time to allow yourself to experience what is coming up for you and know that these experiences are common.  In addition to your distress, you might also find yourself remembering pleasant memories from before the traumatic event alongside the sad ones.  This is also a common experience.
  • Find Healthy Ways to Cope With Your Distress:  Whether you talk to a trusted friend or family member or you journal about what you're experiencing, it's important to find healthy ways to cope with your distress. Creating a personal ritual can be meaningful and helpful.  It doesn't have to be an elaborate ritual.  It can be as simple as lighting a candle or using an image that is symbolic of the anniversary.  Avoid negative ways of coping like drinking or drugging that will only mask your experiences (see my article: Writing to Cope With Grief)
  • Try to Stay Balanced: It's easy to get caught up in thoughts of "what if" or "if only."  Nothing good will come from this, so try to bring yourself back to the present moment.  One way to do this is to engage your senses:
    • What you see
    • What you hear
    • What you feel (tactile sensation)
    • What you smell
    • What, if anything, you taste

Getting Help in Therapy
Anniversaries of traumatic events can be challenging.  

If you find self help strategies aren't enough for you, you could benefit from working with a licensed mental health professional.

A skilled psychotherapist, who specializes in trauma, can help you to work through distressing feelings.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

I specialize in helping clients to overcome trauma (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

To find out more abut me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.