Trauma and its consequences can make it more difficult--but not impossible--to create a meaningfully productive life.
Productivity during trauma
I was talking recently with a coaching client who shared that in preparing a presentation about the effects of trauma, she realized that she is experiencing trauma, as many of us are. Our conversation got me thinking about how our response to traumatic events can affect our ability to accomplish the things that are important to us.
What is trauma?
One dictionary defines it as a “deeply distressing or disturbing experience”; another source notes that:
“Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences.”
The American Psychological Association describes trauma as “an emotional response to a terrible event,” while an article published by the Missouri Department of Mental Health tells us:
“Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that can have lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, social, emotional well-being.”
The Missouri Department of Mental Health article identifies 3 main types of trauma:
* Acute trauma, which results from a single incident
* Chronic trauma, which is repeated and prolonged
* Complex trauma, which comes from exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events, often of an invasive, interpersonal nature
In addition to those types of trauma, as one therapist tells us, “Trauma that affects a community or a country is called collective trauma.”
What are some of the common signs and symptoms of trauma?
Whatever the source or type of trauma we might experience, it can lead to emotional, physical, and psychological consequences. For example, according to What Is Trauma? trauma can lead to:
* Emotional signs, such as sadness, anger, denial, fear, and shame, which may lead to nightmares, insomnia, relationship difficulties, and emotional outbursts
* Common physical symptoms like nausea, dizziness, altered sleep patterns, changes in appetite, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems
* Psychological disorders that may include PTSD, depression, anxiety, dissociative disorders, and substance abuse problems
Writing in Psychology Today, Dr. Odelya Gertel Kraybill, a trauma therapist, says: “Traumatic injury shocks and changes all systems," including cognitive, emotional, physical, spiritual, and social.
How does trauma affect our productivity?
Not surprisingly, the emotional and physical effects of trauma described above affect our quality of life and make it hard to get things done--distraction,