By: Janelle Schlueter, MS, LPC Intern
What is trauma? Have you ever experienced a significant loss, chronic illness, divorce, abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, and/or verbal), serious car accident, natural disaster, military service, or any other event that you found to be significantly distressing? These are all considered traumas. Understanding what trauma is, and how it affects the mind and the body can be complicated to say the least.
If you have recently had a traumatic experience or still think about past traumas and experience strong reactions to those memories, you likely have unprocessed trauma. One thing to remember: you are worthy of living a life of peace!
How do you even begin to heal from trauma? First, everyone processes and recovers from trauma differently. However, you can begin to bring a sense of peace to your life by practicing these 5 tips to heal from past trauma.
5 Tips to heal from past trauma
Acknowledge how the trauma has altered you. You can ask yourself this question, “how was the ME after (the traumatic event) different from the ME before (the traumatic event)?”
Were you involved in a car accident and are now scared to drive? Did you have a serious illness and now find yourself panicking over mild symptoms? Were you in the military and now find yourself jumping at loud noises? Have you experienced an unhealthy relationship and break-up and now notice unhealthy relationship patterns?
It is vital to know how the trauma you have experienced has altered your life in order to move forward. It is common to not be able to identify the specific way that a trauma has altered you. You can ask a close friend, family member, or therapist to help you identify the specific ways the traumatic experience has altered your life.
Create a safe space
Identifying a physically and emotionally safe place is crucial to healing from trauma. It is impossible to heal from trauma if you do not believe you are physically and emotionally safe. This means surround yourself with calming noises, decorations, calming scents, and emotionally healthy people.
One thing to remember with trauma is that it creates anxiety. I always tell my clients “if you see clutter, you feel clutter.” Take the time to organize the stack of mail on the counter, put away the 20 children or dog toys from the floor, wash a load of laundry from the overflowing hamper, and make sure your bedroom is as clutter-free as possible.
When healing from a trauma it is easy to forget one of the most important aspects of maintaining good mental health – self-care. Self-care is any activity that you do to increase the quality of your emotional, physical, and mental health.
Self-care includes, but is not limited to:
- eating healthier
- getting regular exercise
- going to annual checkups with a physician, dentist, and eye doctor
- setting healthy boundaries
- asking for help
- participate in grounding, meditation, and healthy coping skills
- doing things you enjoy – salon/spa visits, scenic drives…. The sky is the limit.
There is a blog on our site about self-care and when to notice that you need more! Please click on the link to read https://cincoranchcounseling.com/5-signs-you-need-to-practice-more-self-care/
Avoid comparing and self-criticizing
It is easy for people to compare their lives to others, especially with the increase in social media use. Keep in mind – the whole story is NEVER on social media. People want to share the positive in their life on social media by leaving the ‘bad’ parts out.
Every experience is unique, especially traumatic experiences. While two people could experience the same event, both will respond differently. There is no right or wrong way to respond to any event, especially with trauma. Avoid comparing your situation with others, such as the negative thoughts of “It wasn’t as bad as (Jane Doe), they had it much worse.”
Criticizing yourself for how quickly you recover from traumatic symptoms is unhealthy and harmful. Experiencing guilt or shame from the event or how you handled your recovery is also unhealthy and harmful.
Most importantly, do not allow ANYONE to compare or criticize you – that includes yourself!
Seek support, ask for help!
If you are struggling with trauma, ask for help from a therapist. Therapy helps you heal from trauma by noting how the event has altered you. The therapist can also help to identify and encourage healthy thinking and behaviors. The therapist can help you identify healthy support systems and encourage healthy communication so you can identify your needs.
When treating trauma with counseling, make sure you find a therapist you are comfortable with and who has experience in treating trauma. While there are lots of different treatments for trauma, the most effective tool available will always be the therapeutic relationship. If you can find a therapist you trust, you are well on your way to healing from trauma.
Our therapists at the Counseling Center can help you on this journey.
Other Counseling Services at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch
Our counseling services at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch include couples counseling, counseling for young adults, counseling for teens, family therapy, counseling for kids, depression treatment, anxiety treatment, eating disorder treatment, group counseling, and trauma counseling. Our therapists strive to regularly post blogs with helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Center today!