Updated: Sep 13
Trauma is defined as an emotional response to a negative event. Acknowledging that you might be suffering from trauma is the first step towards healing. Trauma is an experience of severe emotional and mental trauma, which affects the brain's ability to process information and remember certain events. At times, it may feel that you're moving through life unable to let go of the horrible past. The sufferer may be completely unaware that he/she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other forms of trauma. If you are suffering from trauma, the following article will help you identify it and explain how to overcome it.
Healing from trauma
After a traumatic experience, you may feel anxious or upset for a few days to a few months. As you cope with the unsettling event and return to your normal routine, these feelings often fade. But even when you're feeling better, you may be troubled from time to time by painful memories or emotions—especially in response to triggers such as an anniversary of the event or something that reminds you of the trauma.
1. Get moving
When trauma occurs, your body becomes flooded with adrenaline, which often leaves you feeling as if you're about to jump out of your skin. Exercise is a great way to burn off the excess adrenaline and release endorphins — hormones that make you feel good.
Try to get some physical activity at least three times a week. Or if you're more ambitious, aim for 30 minutes of exercise each day. It's best to exercise by walking, running, swimming, playing basketball, or dancing.
To make exercise more enjoyable and to help you focus less on your thoughts, add a mindfulness element. Instead of focusing on your thoughts or distracting yourself while you exercise, really focus on your body and how it feels as you move. Notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of wind on your skin. Rock climbing, boxing, weight training, or martial arts can make this easier—after all, you need to focus on your body movements during these activities in order to avoid injury.
2. Don't isolate
After a trauma, you may want to withdraw from others and isolate yourself. But isolation only makes things worse by depriving you of the support and healing that come with social connection. So try to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.
You don't have to talk about the trauma.
You don't have to talk about the trauma in order to connect with others. In fact, for some people, that can just make things worse. Comfort comes from feeling engaged and accepted by others.
Ask for support
It's important to reach out to someone who can offer support and understanding. You don't have to talk about the trauma itself, but you may need someone who will listen attentively without judging you. Turn to a trusted family member, friend, counselor, or clergyman.
Participate in social activities
Participate in activities with other people, even if you don't feel like it. Do “normal” activities with other people, not just those related to the traumatic experience.
Reconnect with old friends
If you've withdrawn from relationships that were once important to you, reach out and try to reconnect.
Join a support group for trauma survivors
Connecting with other people who are going through similar experiences can make you feel less alone, and hearing how others cope can help you find inspiration in your own recovery.
Volunteering is a great way to help others and, at the same time, remind yourself of your own strengths and reclaim your sense of power.
Make new friends
If you live alone or far from your family, it's important to make new friends. Look into joining a class or club, connecting with an alumni association, or reaching out to neighbors or coworkers.
3. Self-regulate your nervous system
It can be hard to keep anxiety at bay, but it's important to remember that you have the ability to change your arousal system and calm yourself down. Not only will it help relieve anxiety related to trauma, but it will also engender a greater sense of control in your life.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed, take a few minutes to practice mindful breathing. Focus your attention on the sensations of each breath as it enters and leaves your body.
There are many quick stress relief techniques that people rely on. Some of these are listening to music, petting an animal, or seeing something visually pleasing. Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment with different quick stress relief techniques to find what works best for you.
Try this exercise to feel more grounded in the present. Sit in a chair with your feet touching the floor and your back against the chair. Look around and choose six objects that have red or blue in them. Notice how your breathing gets deeper and calmer as you focus on these colors.
Allow yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it
Acknowledge your feelings about the trauma as they arise and accept them. John Corbett can help.
4. Take care of your health
Having a healthy body can help you cope with the stress of trauma.
Get plenty of sleep
After a traumatic experience, it's not uncommon to have trouble sleeping. But when you don't get enough sleep, it can make your symptoms worse and make it harder to maintain your emotional balance. Try going to sleep and getting up at the same time each day; aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Using drugs to numb your pain may seem like a great idea at first, but it can actually worsen your trauma symptoms and make you feel more depressed, anxious, and isolated.
Eat a well-balanced diet
To keep your energy up and mood swings at bay, eat small, well-balanced meals throughout the day. Avoid sugary and fried foods, and eat plenty of omega-3 fats—such as salmon, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds—to give your mood a boost.
Try meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Schedule time for activities that bring you joy such as your favorite hobbies.