Updated: Jul 18
Trauma is complex and can come from a one-time event or from long-term exposure to abuse or harm. Your body is designed to submerge the emotions from trauma to help you cope during exposure. You move into a survival mode to cope and deal with the current problem, but the emotional scars remain after the situation has ended. People often live with this emotional turmoil for the rest of their lives. It doesn't have to be that way. There are ways to heal from trauma.
Stop the bleeding. You need to take steps to stop additional trauma and pain. Are you in an abusive relationship? Have you surrounded yourself with people who you cannot trust? The first step toward healing is to find safety. You cannot heal while you are fighting to survive. Seek friendships with people who are stable, calm, and able to offer stability. Seek out resources for help.
Learn to use healthy coping skills. People who have experienced trauma often will use unhealthy coping skills to manage their emotions. This results in a downward spiral. There are many healthy coping skills to feel better. Choosing these skills over unhealthy skills can help you deal with daily frustrations to stop the trauma from compounding. You might consider exercise, finding a peaceful hobby, journaling, crafting, taking a bubble bath, taking a nap, or talking to a friend.
Get stable. You are not ready to dive into the process of healing deep emotional wounds until you are in a stable, safe place. It usually takes a while of being stable for your body to calm down enough to address emotional wounds. This stage requires finding a safe place to live, having necessities on hand, and developing a healthy support system.
Start with triggers. When you have a large emotional reaction to a small situation, start to ask yourself questions. What did the situation remind you of? What did you think would be the result of the situation? Who did it remind you of? Are you currently in danger? If not, what can you tell your body to calm it? Journaling can be a powerful tool to help process emotions and help you to heal from the pain.
Become aware of your self-talk. What do you tell yourself in your mind? What do you believe about yourself? What do you believe about other people? Are you carrying guilt over something that was not your fault? Do you need to forgive yourself or others? False beliefs related to trauma are often the source of deep emotional pain for people. Uprooting those beliefs can result in healing.
Sort out your emotions. Unresolved trauma or simply unaddressed emotions can build up into an emotional knot in your gut. You feel upset and ready to emotionally blow, but you can't seem to make sense of the emotions. You sort out these emotions by putting words to them. There is a chasm between your brain and your heart. This means there is a separation between your emotions and your ability to logically understand them. The bridge to connect your brain and heart is your mouth. When you put words to your emotions, you can logically understand them and sort through them. You can do this by talking about how you feel, journaling, through song, or by using art. You are providing an outlet for your emotions and then you can sort through them. When you release all the pent-up emotions at once, it is kind of like emotional throw-up. It can be nasty and funky. But sometimes it is necessary. You can then sort through what was said to edit, evaluate, and alter it as necessary. Keep in mind that you don't want to throw up on anyone. Avoid waiting until conflict arises to let it all out.
Learn to deal with issues as they happen. If you are in the habit of bottling up your emotions this might be challenging for you. It is important to handle situations as they happen. If you are upset with someone, communicate it clearly and set healthy boundaries if necessary. Then let it go. Move on. Every day is full of enough trouble. You don't need to keep carrying around yesterday's issues.
This is not a comprehensive list of things to do to heal from trauma, but it is a good start. Trauma is complex and impacts people differently. Some people experience traumatic events with few emotional reactions and others suffer deeply. There are many therapeutic models to address trauma. The relationship between the therapist and client can also be powerful. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you are struggling.
Photo by Kat Smith: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-crying-568021/