BrainPower with Lisa Branch: Tips for Coping with Emotional Trauma

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Hey There! Welcome back to BrainPower! Last week we began talking about trauma and how the
recent emotionally charged events in our community effect brain development, brain growth, and even
over all logic and reasoning. Today, I’m going to share a couple more tips on how to help yourself or a
loved one who may be having a difficult time with processing the recent happenings (think fires, school
events, or even something more personal such as a death in the family).
Last week I shared that actively listening as a person shares their experience is the number one way to
help them process what has happened. As a recap, active listening involves putting your phone down,
tuning out life’s distractions, and truly hearing what is being shared with you. Not only does this allow
you the insight to help identify the underlying struggles, it also helps that person to process the
information as they speak their version. When they hear what they are thinking, it is an additional step
towards defining the real fears or realizing that what they are saying really is beyond the scope of what
might truly occur in the future.
When we examine trauma-especially emotional trauma-we also have to remember that trauma is
different for every person. A small child interprets something very differently than a teen, an adult, or
even a senior. This is partially due to their size, but more often it is also due to their limited experience.
For example, the death of a pet is a sad time for everyone in the family; however, a young child who has
never lost a pet, will often begin to have nightmares or fear that others may die soon as well. They may
even begin to fear that they won’t wake up if they go to sleep. Talking about the pet and about death is
vital in these situations. Listen to the questions your child needs answers to. They don’t need a text
book, graded lecture. They need age appropriate, short sentence, answers that calm their fears.

OK-2 more tips!

  1. Provide downtime. During times of trauma, our brains need rest. They need quiet. Canceling a
    hectic weekend to just spend Saturday in pajamas and eating a late breakfast will be worth gold
    in the long run! (Side note-comfort foods say “I love you” but also keep your kids eating healthy
    during this time. The brain needs vitamins and nutrients to keep it moving.)
  2. Make a plan. Knowing what to do in future cases relieves the doubt and replaces it with power.
    When we feel helpless, fear controls the “fight or flight” part of the brain that overstimulates
    the amount of adrenaline being released by the body. This causes a constant state of alertness
    that can turn into anxiety, doubt, confusion, distraction, and more. Having a plan reduces that
    adrenaline and helps us to feel prepared should a similar situation arise. Create a code word.
    Choose a meet up location should you become separated or in the case that you aren’t with
    your child when a situation arises. Plan a route of escape and remind them that you believe in
    their ability to protect themselves.

When you put these tips into practice, you, your child, your spouse, or your parent, can begin the
journey to recovery from emotional trauma. I’ll see you’re here next week with more BrainPower!

Lisa Branch, LearningRx and author of BrainPower

Lisa Branch, the Director of the LearningRx Huntsville Brain Training Center, extends a welcoming hand to those grappling with learning difficulties. Whether it’s an individual or a loved one facing challenges, the center is eager to provide assistance. Learning struggles often lead to a multitude of questions for both individuals and families, and the team at LearningRx Huntsville is fully prepared to offer solutions and answers. Learn more about LearningRx at