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Coping with trauma

As much as you may want to, it just isn’t possible to forget about a traumatic event. Instead, here are some ways that you can take action to help you cope after experiencing trauma.

  • Don’t be afraid to get help. Get counselling from a mental health professional to help you to come to terms with the event. Find out about sessions at CCDU.
  • Let yourself feel. Make space to sit with the emotions that come up for you about the event.    
  • Connect with others. Talk to friends and family about everyday things. If you feel safe, talk to someone you trust about your traumatic experience.    
  • Take care of your health by eating properly and getting enough sleep or rest when you can.        
  • Try mindful breathing. Take 60 deep breaths, with a long sigh out as you exhale.    
  • Try this grounding exercise:
Take a few minutes to try this grounding exercise to feel more connected to reality and to help you feel calmer. In your head, name:
  • Five things you can see – Name 5 things that you can see around you e.g. I can see my laptop, a tree outside the window, a pen, a shoe and my phone.
  • Four things you can touch – Name and describe 4 things that you can touch. I can feel the warmth of my socks against my feet; the smooth, hard roughness of a wall; the sharp coldness of a key etc.
  • Three things you can hear – Name 3 things that you can hear, close by and in the distance. I can hear a clock ticking, the traffic in the distance, people talking outside.
  • Two things you can smell – Name 2 things that you can smell. You may need to move around to find something to sniff e.g. food or a plant. If that’s not possible, just think of two of your favourite smells.

Breathe in and out slowly

This should allow you to feel in the present, more grounded and in your body. Notice how your breath gets deeper and calmer.


  • Wits Student Crisis Line  0800 111 331 (24/7/365 support)