Featured image source: Supermodels Enter Rehab by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia, July 2007
Life is unpredictable, and for some people it can even be chaotic. It’s deeply unfortunate that some are exposed to life situations that leave a scar, and this can take some time to come to terms with. When you have access to a safe environment, undergoing the work of unpacking that past difficulty and healing from it can seem monumental, as if you were climbing Mount Everest without any gear or guidance.
However, it’s essential to understand that trauma can be healed from. It’s a process, and it’s important to be very gentle and kind with yourself throughout it. That said, it’s essential to hold onto that hope so you can take each day as it comes, and celebrate the small wins you might enjoy.
In this guide, we’ll take a realistic view about trauma, and suggest several tips you can take to help begin your journey through and away form it. Note that none of this should subpercede advice from professional mental health treatment services, unless they are both together.
Understand That Trauma Is Real & Has Physical Effects
You’re not a lesser person for having trauma, nor for experiencing the physical effects of it. In “The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel van der Kolk, the author argues that the physical effects of trauma can show up unannounced over time and can be soothed with diligent and careful practice.
Depending on the person, these issues can show up in a myriad of different expressions. For some, it may cause difficulty sleeping, for others, being in loud environments or crowds can be overwhelming.
It’s important to recognize that logically arguing your own mind out of a trauma response is rarely going to help you, instead speaking to experienced and licensed professionals will help you express yourself and address the difficulty head on. This way, you can begin to heal from it. You can also visit your physician for help with the physical effects you might be having.
For example, they may recommend a herbal remedy to help you with your sleep, or even prescription medicines like SSRI’s to help you manage the more pernicious effects of your trauma. Don’t assume you’ll be perfectly fine without this form of help, as it exists for a reason, and may do you a world of good.
Reach Out For Help, Because You May Really Need It
There is absolutely nothing virtuous about holding on to your trauma and never letting anyone see it, because it will express itself in other ways, and all you’ve done there is close off access to the help you could have needed.
SImilarly, there is no shame in reaching out for help if you need it. In fact, doing so is a sign of strength, the first step you take in becoming free from trauma and moving back into your best sense of self. Reach out to mental health treatment services with expeirence in handling trauma, and understand that recovery isn’t linear. There will be up periods and down periods, and sometimes addressing trauma will be the last thing you want to do.
But, with the right support, you can make those baby steps towards recovery and genuine, lasting healing. To gain that, you have to put your hand up and ask for it. Remember – you deserve it, and these services have been cultivated to help people like you.
Navigate & Understand Triggers, Curate Coping Strategies
You are not defined by your trauma. However, it’s true that sometimes, it can still make us vulnerable. Triggers are not always 100% avoidable in life, nor should they be, because we can’t always limit the harshness of life into a little box that never bothers us again.
That said, understanding what your triggers are and cultivating methods to help protect against their effects can be very helpful as you heal and gather your strength over time. With the right support, you may be able to first protect, then accept, then ignore the trigger, to the point where it might not bother you any further.
For example – it’s perfectly acceptable to check the content warnings for media you consume ahead of time, and if any displays of sexual violence are involved, you may avoid watching that television show or movie. This doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re conducting self-care as you address more personal issues.
Express Yourself Through Healthier Means
When we have trauma, it’s easy to bottle it up until we explode, suffer physical issues like panic attacks, or have to withdraw from our day to day responsibilities. This is where expressing those energies through healthier means can be so important.
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For some, therapeutic art can be helpful, as can music, as can creative writing. For others it’s arts and crafts. A stimulating hobby that helps keep you busy and allows a constructive process your mind will focus on can be very helpful for feeling more controlled and comforted throughoutthe day. Another good suggestion is exercise, provided it doesn’t become an obsessive refuge it can help your sleep, express your physical discomfort more easily, and help you feel more confident and active in yourself.
Put simply – healthy habits and purpose will make the world of difference, and are always worth integrating into your lifestyle. Especially if you’ve been struggling with mental health.
Set Realistic Recovery Goals
Ultimately, it’s important to note that trauma is absolutely a difficult experience to have gone through, and its effects linger. In some cases, you might not be “fully healed” for a period of years. This isn’t intended to demotivate you, but to make it clear that realistic recovery goals are a much healthier and better means of gauging your recovery process than any well-wishing words of comfort.
With a therapist you can set healthier goals that help you, for example, exposure therapy that grants you more confidence and sense of control over your environment, even in uncertain situations. This will give you the practical tools to live with the challenges you might have, and after some time those challenges will affect you less and less. Before long, you will come out as a stronger, more confident person, but those realistic goals will help more than anything else.
Using this advice, we hope you can move through, on from, and away from trauma as comprehensively as possible.