Managing Aftershock of Crisis

Managing Aftershock of Crisis

Dealing with Difficult Emotions After a Crisis

A crisis event, whether it’s a natural disaster, accident, illness, or other tragedy can leave us feeling emotionally raw and drained in its aftermath. As the initial shock and adrenaline wears off, difficult emotions can arise. These may include feelings like:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Grief
  • Helplessness

It’s important to know that these emotions are normal responses to an abnormal event. Allowing ourselves to feel them and process them in healthy ways is key to recovering psychologically. Here are some self-care strategies for managing the aftershock of a crisis:

Take Time to Grieve Losses

Often a tragedy involves loss on many levels – loss of life, possessions, routines, financial stability, sense of safety. Give yourself permission to fully grieve these losses. Cry if you need to. Share feelings with empathetic friends. Do rituals meaningful to your culture or spirituality. Journal, create art, or find other outlets for expression.

Attend to Basic Needs

In the aftermath of crisis, our foundations feel shaken. Focus first on providing basic care and comforts for your body and mind like:

  • Eat regular, nourishing meals
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get enough sleep
  • Take time to move your body
  • Limit exposure to screens/news
  • Connect with community

As best you can, avoid relying on unhelpful coping mechanisms like excess alcohol, drugs, or risky behaviors. Instead, opt for healthy self-soothing activities.

Seek Professional Help If Needed

For some people, an acute crisis can worsen or trigger underlying trauma, depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD and other mental health issues that require professional support. There is no shame in reaching out for expert care – this is an act of courage that aids the healing process. A good therapist provides a safe space to process emotions and re-establish stability.

Practice Self-Compassion

In difficult times especially, we need to treat ourselves kindly – as we would a good friend. Understand that your reactions are valid and human. Be patient and nurturing with yourself, and limit self-blame or criticism. Recognize your inner wisdom and strength. Forgive small mistakes. Say positive affirmations. The more you cultivate self-compassion, the more resilience you build.

Look for Meaning and Growth

As time passes after a tragedy, shifts in perspective often emerge. We start to regain equilibrium and a bigger picture view. Now is the chance to re-evaluate priorities and purpose. What lessons have we learned? How can we grow wiser? Use journaling, art, or conversations with others to reflect. Moving forward with intention brings light to the darkness.


What are some common emotional responses in a crisis aftermath?

Some common responses include anxiety, fear, anger, guilt, grief, helplessness and difficulties concentrating or sleeping. These are normal reactions to abnormal events.

How can I attend to basic needs after a crisis?

Focus on getting regular nourishing meals, drinking enough water, getting adequate sleep, moving your body, limiting media exposure, and connecting with your community or support systems. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms.

When should I seek professional help after a crisis?

Seek professional counseling or therapy if you are having intense or persisting trauma reactions, panic attacks, flashbacks, depression, suicidal thoughts or are turning to excessive risky behaviors. There is no shame in needing expert support.

Why is self-compassion important after a crisis?

Treating ourselves kindly helps us to process and heal. Self-criticism often backfires, worsening trauma reactions. Self-compassion builds inner resilience.

How can I find meaning after a tragedy?

In time, shifts in perspective emerge. Journaling, art and conversations help us reflect on lessons learned, re-evaluate priorities and purpose, and turn trauma into wisdom we carry forward.