A description of self help techniques

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies identifies in 'Psychological Support: Community-based Psychological Support Training Manual (2002) a number of self-help techniques. These are described below.

Emotional reactions to distressing events are normal and should be expected both from the people affected and the helpers. The majority of the reactions are short-term with no lasting consequences. Both physical care and psychological support are important to successful recovery. If you still feel uneasy about your reactions after a few weeks, you should seek professional advice



Remember that your reactions are normal and unavoidable

It is useful to express even frightening and strange feelings.

Be aware of your tension and consciously try to relax.

Slow your breathing and relax your muscles.

Talk to someone with whom you feel at ease; describe to him/her what you were thinking or feeling during the critical event.

You process the unpleasant experiences when you talk about them.

Draw, paint, write, play music or take exercise. Look for a healthy outlet.

Sometimes it is easier to express your feelings by doing rather than talking.

Listen to what people close to you say and think about the event.

It has affected them too, and they may share insight that will benefit you.

Take special care of yourself. Try to keep eating well and limit alcohol and tobacco.

Physical exercise is good for you because it relieves tension.

Continue to work on routine tasks if it is difficult to concentrate on demanding duties.

Tell your peers and team leader/supervisor about how the distressing event has affected you, so that they can understand.

If you cannot sleep or feel too anxious, discuss this with someone you can trust.

Do not self-medicate.

Get medical advice.

Go easy on yourself.

It takes time to evaluate how you will view things after a distressing event has occurred.

Avoid inflated or perfectionist expectations, either about yourself or others.

These can only lead to disappointment and conflict.