Self-Care in Response to Traumatic Events

By Jaja Chen

How do we respond following fears and experiences of bombings in our capitol – Austin, Texas?

When seeing recent news stories like these, many fears can arise for the safety of our friends, family members, peers, and our city. Amidst the fears and hearing about traumatic events, how do we continue thriving in our Wacotown?

Self-care following traumatic events that we hear about, witness, or personally experience can help us to lean into emotions and our community, as opposed to isolating ourselves. Trauma is anything that is a shock to one’s mind, body, soul, and/or spirit. Traumatic events leave us with many questions and thoughts of “Why?”

Three self-care responses in the face of traumatic events that we cannot comprehend include:

1.) Pay attention to how trauma is impacting you – Notice how you respond physically in your body as you listen to or read news articles about traumatic events that occur-not just to people around the nation or world-but also amongst racial/ethnic or diverse groups in which you identify with. Secondary trauma can occur when we hear about or witness a traumatic event, even if the event was heard through a news article.

2.) Process with a trustworthy individual – Whether that is a friend, family member, mentor, or colleague, find someone you trust and can connect with to share about your experiences and responses to trauma. This may even mean reaching out to a confidential hotline* first before speaking with someone you know in person. Connect with loved ones who may be feeling the same way as you or who may have been impacted by the same or similar events. At times, taking care of yourself can also mean doing your own processing work with a therapist prior to sharing about what happened to others around you.

3.) Demonstrate self-compassion to yourself – We must recognize that trauma has a ripple effect. Our communities are impacted by trauma. Simply paying attention to how you feel in response to trauma is an act of self-compassion. And connecting with others to see how they are doing helps demonstrate empathy and compassion. You are not alone. As we experience the full array of emotions in response to traumatic events, kindness and grace for ourselves in the process of healing helps us to mindfully press in to self-care as opposed to judgment, isolation, or over-identification with unpleasant emotions – to the point of unhealthy coping.

For many of us, the experience of traumatic events-either direct or indirect-may lead us to reach out to a licensed mental health professional to work through the emotions, thoughts, and physical impacts of traumatic events in our lives. Trauma can impact our physical health as our bodies store can traumatic memories physically. Reach out to someone today -whether that is a friend, safe family member, or peer to enhance your self-care and to help our community to thrive.

Jaja Chen, LMSW, CDWF-Candidate, is private practice therapist in Waco through Enrichment Training & Counseling Solutions specializing in trauma and difficult life transitions. As an EMDR Trained Therapist, Jaja’s passion is walking alongside individuals whom are healing from PTSD, secondary trauma, and burnout. Jaja can be contacted via email at [email protected] or via webpage at

 *If you are currently experiencing a mental health crisis in response to traumatic events, dial 911. If you are experiencing hopelessness or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential.

Read Locally Waco: Rosie Likes to Drive Around

Read Locally Waco is a project to promote literacy in Waco.  Throughout the semester we will post stories that use sight words our children are learning in Waco ISD.  You can print these stories and lists of words to use with your children or with other children in your life.  This week’s story uses words from the First Grade Sight Word List.  For a printable version of this story and word list, click here:  Rosie Likes to Drive Around.

Rosie Likes to Drive Around

Rosie likes to drive around. Robert likes to walk.
For weeks she drove right by him. Then, one day she stopped to talk.

“You are very boring!” Rosie stopped and said that day.
Said Robert to Miss Rosie, “Well, you don’t have to stay.”

“Every day you walk and walk. You go so very slow.
Why don’t you drive a car like me?  That’s all I want to know.”

“If you really want to know me, all you have to do is ask.
You never stop to talk to me; you always drive right past.”

So, Rosie stopped her yellow car, and parked it on the street.
She took her sneakers from the trunk, and put them on her feet.

As she and Robert walked along, he showed her many things…
He showed her where he liked to play and pushed her on his swing.

They said “Hello” to Mrs. Jones and patted her dog Chico.
They waved to June and Christopher and their new baby, Rico.

They bought a sno-cone from a truck and each of them ate half.
“Your lips are blue!”  “Your lips are blue!”  They both said with a laugh.

When they walked back to Rosie’s car, the moon was big and bright.
They had walked and walked and walked and walked till day had turned to night.

Rosie likes to drive around. Robert likes to walk.
Now she never drives right by him.  She always stops to talk.

First Grade Sight Words Used in this Story

  • Every
  • Laugh
  • Many
  • New
  • Night
  • Very
  • Walk
  • Why
  • His
  • Put
  • Him
  • By
  • Day
  • Your
  • Them
  • Had
  • Know
  • Ask

This Act Locally Waco blog post is by Ashley Bean Thornton, she has lived in Waco almost 20 years now. Far longer than she ever lived anywhere else. She likes to walk. If you see her out walking, honk and wave and say “hi!”

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.