Trauma is unfortunately common in modern life and can stem from a surprisingly wide range of events. For example, there are 160,000 car accidents annually in Canada and millions of them in the US. Serious car accidents can cause both physical and mental trauma. Getting caught up in a natural disaster can traumatize someone.
Then there are traumas stemming from sexual abuse, sexual assault, and physical assaults. Even childhood neglect can traumatize someone. Despite the many sources of trauma, healing is possible. If you’re looking for ways you can start healing from trauma, keep reading for some key tips and ideas.
Acknowledge the Event
Traumatic events often loom so large in a person’s mind that they want to pretend it never happened. If they don’t acknowledge it, they reason, they don’t have to deal with it. Sadly, that strategy doesn’t work in the long term.
The healing process starts with the acknowledgment that the event happened and was real. Making that acknowledgment is often uncomfortable or even painful, but a necessary step to get started.
Accept Personal Support
A healing journey is almost never a solo act. If nothing else, most people need someone or several people to talk with about their experience. That can take the form of family members, friends, and support groups.
There is often a temptation to dismiss the offers of support from others. You may feel like it’s your problem to deal with or don’t want to burden others. Carrying that load by yourself can prove difficult and even counterproductive in the long run.
Find Professional Support
With physical traumas, there is often a physician involved who guides the healing process. For example, they assess the physical damage and make recommendations about things like medications, physical therapy, and recommendations for things you can do at home.
Since so much trauma involves a mental and emotional component, it’s practical to look for a mental health professional as well. Someone with experience in trauma counselling can help guide your mental health recovery in much the same way a physician guides your physical recovery.
Engage in Self-Care
Self-care gets bandied about a lot these days, but it is an important component in the healing process. Self-care is primarily about doing things for yourself that support and improve your mental well-being.
That can range from things like taking a long bath or watching movies you love to taking up painting or attending orchestral concerts. Remember, self-care is all about doing things for yourself. It won’t necessarily look like someone else’s version of self-care.
Physical activity may not sound like a great therapeutic activity, but science backs it up. Exercise can boost the neurochemicals in your brain that support your sense of well-being. Exercise can also reduce stress and improve sleep, which is often problematic for trauma survivors.
Physical health does go beyond mere exercise, though. You must also attend to your diet. Eating a healthy, balanced diet will support your physical healing and help fuel your physical activity.
People respond to trauma in different ways. Yet, addictions following trauma are unfortunately common. For example, people will often turn to alcohol or drugs to help them sleep in the wake of their trauma. While that might work in the short term, it’s a very short road from occasional use to full-blown dependency.
Addictions don’t always come in the recognizable forms of drugs or alcohol. People will sometime start shopping excessively, engage in sexual addiction, or become workaholics. You may also find yourself overeating as a form of self-comfort. All of these addictions can have serious negative consequences on your personal and professional life, as well as your overall well-being.
Healing from Trauma and You
The healing journey after a trauma is a well-trod path, but it doesn’t always look the same for each person. For some, just acknowledging the event is a major milestone, while others struggle more with accepting support.
While the exact road you take will prove deeply personal, make a point of enlisting people you trust in the process. Look for a professional counselor to help guide your journey. Do engage in some self-care along the way and include minding your physical health in that process. Make sure that you watch out for common pitfalls like an addiction.
Lizzie Howard is a Colorado native who after graduating from the University of Colorado spends her time as a freelance writer. She covers a wide variety of topics but is particularly passionate about mental health and trauma counselling. When Lizzie isn’t writing, she enjoys going on hikes, baking for her friends and family, and spending time with her beloved yellow lab, Sparky.