Safety, Predictability & Control in the Midst of COVID-19
Riverside Trauma Center’s guiding principles of
trauma-informed care, safety, predictability, and control, grow out of the knowledge that
trauma is an overwhelming physiological response in which a person experiences
a felt sense of loss of control, vulnerability, and immobilization. For many people the current pandemic of
COVID-19 is increasing these feelings in ourselves, our families, and the
people we work with. Here are some ideas
to increase a sense of safety, predictability, and control:
Physical Safety begins with
following the guidelines on physical precautions recommended by credible sources
such as the CDC. We can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by washing our hands and
social/physical distancing for example. From a trauma-informed lens safety goes
far beyond just physical safety, and includes:
from things like of loss of income, delayed access to medical care (for other
issues), loneliness, etc.
unnecessary sources of toxic stress.
For example, if media/social media viewing is increasing your anxiety,
consider limiting your exposure: Stick to credible sources and significantly
reduce the frequency of checking social media.
Increasing a sense
of internal and emotional safety by engaging in healthy and fun self-care
activities: yoga, mindfulness, living room dance parties, crafting, video
games, hiking, whatever works for you.
fostering relational and social safety is perhaps the most significant determinant
of how people fare psychologically both during and after a potentially
traumatic experience. Stay connected to
your loved ones, even if physically distant.
Reach out to your neighbors who might be isolated. Practice patience and kindness with the
people you live with.
Even as things in the wider world may feel chaotic and
unpredictable, it is important consider ways to maintain or build structure and
routine in your own life.
What are the rituals and routines that you/your family consistently do? How can you maintain (or start) those during this time?
What kind of schedule would you like to try to maintain during this time especially if you or your children are home? Discuss it with members of your household and write out a plan.
What will help you feel as organized as possible in your own life? To-do lists? Setting goals?
While so many things feel out of
control right now, it can be helpful to think about what you do have control
When we help others, we are foremost helping ourselves. What can you do to feel like you are helping? (E.g.; Write cards of encouragement to potentially isolated or vulnerable groups or letters of thanks to health care providers or first responders; hold or contribute to online fundraisers for those who are economically impacted, etc…)
Is there a skill you want to learn? Another language? Playing an instrument? There’s an app or a website that can help you. Small islands of mastery are a great way to help give you a little sense of control.
Give yourself and your children choices (within a predictable structure) and collaborate around decision making.
Focus on your and your family’s strengths. What you focus on grows. Focusing on strengths can increase your sense of control in your own life as well as your sense of relational safety.