What to Do When Trauma Piles on Top of Stress

What to Do When Trauma Piles on Top of Stress

Normally, you can handle life’s everyday stressors. You keep your cool when your ADD child can’t stay focused on homework. You work through any relationship issues with your significant other. You find healthy ways to decompress from your stressful job.

But not these days.

Any little thing in your life that isn’t humming along is becoming a compounded trauma due to what you’re experiencing from the pandemic, economic shutdown, and months of physical distancing. The result?

Your nerves are frayed. You’re losing your temper with your ADD child. Your marital problems seem insurmountable. You feel like you need a Quarantini—or 2 or 3 of them—to help you cope with work stress.

What can you do about it?

5 Ways to Cope with Compounded Stress

1. Disinfect your thoughts.

During a stressful pandemic, mental hygiene is just as important as washing your hands. If your head is filled with ANTs (automatic negative thoughts), it is only adding to your stress. Learning to question your thoughts and eliminate unhelpful ANTs can help you begin to see options and come up with solutions for your everyday stressors.

2. Find some “me” time.

Are you so focused on taking care of others—your kids, your spouse, your coworkers—that you’re neglecting your own health and well-being? When you spend all your time helping others without giving yourself the self-care you deserve, you’re left with nothing in the tank. If you’re running on empty, you don’t have the bandwidth to handle additional stress. Schedule time in your day for self-care. Make it an appointment so you’re more likely to stick with it.

3. Boost your blood flow.

When you have low blood flow in the brain, especially in the frontal lobes, it reduces your ability to problem-solve, impairs judgment and decision-making, lowers your empathy, and makes it less likely that you’ll bite your tongue before saying something hurtful to someone you care about. Simple ways to increase blood flow to this area of the brain include physical exercise, meditation, and taking fish oil supplements that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Share your feelings with a friend.

Feeling like you’re all alone with nowhere to turn for help can compound the stress you’re experiencing. Find an ally with whom you can share your feelings. This is different from complaining, which typically centers on blaming or judging others. Sharing feelings helps you get negative thoughts and emotions out of your head so you can move ahead with constructive solutions to the issues you’re facing.

5. Seek professional help.

If you had been coping fairly well with your temper, anxiety, or drinking, or if your child’s ADD or behavioral problems had been treated effectively, but now things have spiraled out of control, it may be time to seek help from a professional.

Anxiety, ADD/ADHD, addictions, behavioral problems, and other mental health issues can’t wait. During these uncertain times, your mental well-being is more important than ever and waiting until life gets back to “normal” is likely to make your symptoms worsen over time.

At Amen Clinics, we’re here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.


  1. Excellent article! and thank you for making it available in this format~
    I have been referring to my anxiety as ‘Sustained stress’….and knowing it is not
    Sustainable when too much is happening at the same time…and so much of it these days is due to things that are simply out of our control such as the pandemic , economic shutdown, and the unrest in our country~
    Early on in the pandemic I read the poem ‘Lockdown’ by Brother Richard Hendrick and have reread it many times and referred it to many friends and family to read as well.
    Very powerful and his words capture best what our hearts instinctively know …there is goodness in our nation and in our world and this poem shows just how much goodness is everywhere if we just open our hearts to see it! Every time I read it, it makes my heart smile!
    Your article is very uplifting as well, and I will take to heart your suggestions and heed them~ Most of your points are things I already have tried to make a part of my daily practice …the suggestion of fish oil supplements is one I will implement today and make it a priority to include daily ~
    Thank you Dr. Amen for the goodness you add to our world~

    Comment by Candace Gorsuch — June 24, 2020 @ 2:44 AM

  2. It’s predictable, almost comical, today’s , “so-called” medical and psychological experts fail to see the folly of their own counsel. All of the suggestions for dealing with stress may provide some temporary cessation for stressful or anxious moments but in the long-term they usually prove fruitless & ineffectual…Why? Because there is an absence of any mention is the power of Prayer…

    Praying costs nothing, one need not be subject to any expensive medical or psychological testing, and, usually, if joined by others, one forms a great Faith support community…Prayer teaches self-reliance, understanding that life is not always feeling good but in always attempting to doing good that subsides stress and anxiety…

    Open the Bible…

    “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” Psalm 34:4
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

    There are too many more to mention…but yours to view for free..no appointment necessary…

    In today’s tired, confused, anxious, politically correct venue…The power of contemplative prayer is an opportunity to heal from the inside out…

    Unfortunately, the catharsis I will experience by writing this comment is offering it…I know it will not be shared because of the fear of experts that some people may actually turn to God instead of some temporary, miracle cure…mumbo jumbo…

    Comment by Dr. Henry Sinopoli — June 28, 2020 @ 8:00 AM

  3. I study God’s word everyday. I constantly pray for relief from the depression and anxiety I am going through. Counseling and medication are not helping much either.

    Comment by Vincent Sakony — July 16, 2020 @ 2:37 PM

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