The pandemic of Covid-19 has caused global trauma on a scale never seen before. This stress can manifest in many ways, including physical symptoms, emotional reactions, and behavioural changes. If you are experiencing trauma due to Covid-19, you are not alone. In this blog post, we will discuss how to deal with the trauma of Covid-19. We will also provide a definition of PTSD and offer some tips for stress management.

Am I suffering from PTSD?

To know if you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  first you have to understand exactly what trauma is and isn’t, and what PTSD means.

Post-Traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing, witnessing or participating in an intensely traumatic event such as natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.


Symptoms of  PTSD can include flashbacks, intrusive thoughts or memories, nightmares, severe stress, anxiety, avoidance of matching triggers as well as physical symptoms such as headaches and body aches.


People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.

Symptoms of PTSD fall into the following four categories. Specific symptoms can vary in severity.

  1. trauma

    Intrusion: Intrusive thoughts such as repeated, involuntary memories; distressing dreams; or flashbacks of the traumatic event. Flashbacks may be so vivid that people feel they are re-living the traumatic experience or seeing it before their eyes.

  2. Avoidance: Avoiding reminders of the traumatic event may include avoiding people, places, activities, objects and situations that may trigger distressing memories. People may try to avoid remembering or thinking about the traumatic event. They may resist talking about what happened or how they feel about it.
  3. Alterations in cognition and mood: Inability to remember important aspects of the traumatic event, negative thoughts and feelings leading to ongoing and distorted beliefs about oneself or others (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted”); distorted thoughts about the cause or consequences of the event leading to wrongly blaming self or other; ongoing fear, horror, anger, guilt or shame; much less interest in activities previously enjoyed; feeling detached or estranged from others; or being unable to experience positive emotions (a void of happiness or satisfaction).
  4. Alterations in arousal and reactivity: Arousal and reactive symptoms may include being irritable and having angry outbursts; behaving recklessly or in a self-destructive way; being overly watchful of one’s surroundings in a suspecting way; being easily startled; or having problems concentrating or sleeping.

Many people who are exposed to a traumatic event experience symptoms similar to those described above in the days following the event. For a person to be diagnosed with PTSD, however, symptoms must last for more than a month and must cause significant distress or problems in the individual’s daily functioning. Many individuals develop symptoms within three months of the trauma, but symptoms may appear later and often persist for months and sometimes years. PTSD often occurs with other related conditions, such as depression, substance use, memory problems and other physical and mental health problems.


  • Children with PTSD may exhibit symptoms such as:
    • Dreams of the trauma, which may then change into nightmares of monsters.
    • Re-living the trauma in their play. For example, a child involved in a road traffic accident might re-enact the crash with toy cars. 
    • Sleeping problems. This may include secondary enuresis or separation anxiety (for example the child insists on sleeping in their parent’s bed).
    • Losing interest in things that they previously enjoyed.
    • Expressing the belief that they will not live long enough to grow up.
  • PTSD should also be considered in people repeatedly presenting with unexplained physical symptoms, and in people with depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.
    • Physical symptoms can include headaches, gastrointestinal problems, rheumatic pains, and skin disorders. Children with PTSD may report stomach aches and headaches.
  • Be aware of occupations and lifestyle factors that may be risk factors for exposure to traumatic events/the development of PTSD such as Doctors and health care professionals
  • (although the onset of some symptoms may be immediate).
  • PTSD with dissociative symptoms is diagnosed if they meet the DSM 5 criteria and they experience high levels of either of the following in reaction to trauma-related stimuli:
    • Depersonalization: experience of being an outside observer of or detached from oneself (e.g., feeling as if “this is not happening to me” or one were in a dream).
    • Derealization: experience of unreality, distance, or distortion (e.g. “things are not real”).

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after Covid-19, it is important to seek professional help. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) are effective therapies for Post traumatic stress Disorder. There is no shame in seeking assistance during a time of crisis. PTSD is a very common stress reaction and can happen to anyone.

How do we build resilience to trauma?

If you are experiencing stress and trauma due to Covid-19, there are a few things that may help. We have outlined some tips for stress management below:

Exercise regularly and realign with what’s important to you

Physical and meaningful ( core value driven ) activity and  is proven to reduce stress, increase wellbeing and increase endorphins. Consider taking walks around the neighbourhood, restarting hobbies or  even doing an at-home workout. By even taking a few minutes out of your day for some exercise, you can help to reduce stress levels and reclaim your life after the trauma. The key to recovery  is consistency.

Avoid isolation

It is common for stress and trauma to lead to isolation due to fear of re-experiencing traumatic memories and flashbacks. However, it’s important that you maintain some sort of connection with friends and family. Consider scheduling regular phone and catch ups with with loved ones during the lockdown period and beyond. Keeping in touch can help prevent stress levels from rising even further, as well as preventing

Practice self-care

Self-care is so important during times of stress and trauma. Make time each day for things that make you happy and relax you. This may be something as simple as reading, taking a bath or listening to music. Create both a morning and evening routine that helps decompress from the daily stressors and incorporate stress-relieving techniques such as skincare and reading a few pages on something you are passionate about.


Avoid stress triggers

It is common to find yourself obsessing over things that are outside of your control during times of stress and trauma. Instead, focus on what you can do to cope with stress in a healthy way and avoid any stress triggers for the time being. This may be certain people that you need to distance yourself from for your own peace of mind


Mediation is an extremely effective way to deal with stress and trauma. Consider downloading an app or finding a local class that can help you learn how to meditate. Meditation helps to focus the mind, providing clarity during chaotic times. When starting mediation you don’t have to do anything more than sit with your eyes closed and focus on breathing. Don’t worry if your mind is racing and you feel silly. By welcoming all thoughts you are actually doing the practice correctly. Even meditating 5 minutes a day you will see benefits that include stress relief, improved sleep and a more positive outlook on your life.

Trauma Focused CBT Therapy

If you are feeling overwhelmed or like you cannot cope with stress and trauma on your own, it is important to seek professional help. This may be from a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist who can provide medication,  prolonged Exposure Therapy, Reclaiming your life strategies whilst grounding exercises can help with reducing flashbacks. The processing of broken trauma memories can also facilitate recovery. Professionals and Experts will be able to provide you with the tools and resources necessary to manage stress and trauma. If symptoms of PTSD persist for longer than four weeks, it is recommended that you seek professional help. It is important to find the right therapist for your personality so don’t be scared to interview several therapists and ask questions before committing to one.

These are just a few stress management and PTSD techniques that can be used to build resilience to trauma. Remember, it is important to take things one step at a time and not to overload yourself. Seek professional help if you feel like you are struggling to cope with the stress of Covid-19.


Resources for those affected by Covid-19

In a world where information is endless, it can be difficult to find the right information that is pertinent and credible. Below we have included a list of some FREE stress management resources for those who have been impacted by Covid-19:

NIMH: National Institute of Mental Health has a stress and trauma page with information on how to deal with stress, PTSD and other mental health concerns.


CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has a webpage dedicated to stress and Covid-19. This page includes tips for reducing stress, maintaining mental health and links to stress management resources.


PTSD UK – UK Based Charity supporoting those with PTSD .


Psychology Today: Psychology today has a stress and trauma page with information on stress and mental health during Covid-19, including how to manage stress effectively.

HelpGuide: This is another resource for individuals who are struggling with stress from the pandemic. It includes tips for staying mentally healthy, what to do if stress becomes overwhelming and stress management techniques.

Journals: There are countless journals, both online and in print that can provide a healthy outlet to express your thoughts during times of stress. Journaling is one of the most effective stress-relieving activities. Journaling is an inexpensive stress management technique that can be done anywhere.

Podcasts: Podcasts have gained popularity over the last few years and for good reason! While some people feel like stress is increased when watching television, podcasts are a great stress-relieving alternative that can often be very educational.


Final thoughts

The best way to recover from a traumatic situation is with the support of others. It’s important to be aware that not everyone will respond in the same way, and there may come a time when you need professional help or therapy. For more information on how we can help your employees get back on their feet after trauma, visit our website today or book a complimentary call here!


Martina Witter

Accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, Mindset Coach & Health and Wellbeing Consultant