When I get this question, I know my client is really asking, “Is there hope for me?” This is hands down the most frequent question I have been asked by survivors. After you have experienced a traumatic event, you might be worried that you're going to feel physical and or emotional pain indefinitely. While it can certainly take some time to heal and recover, there are many steps you can take to help you move forward even if it is one small baby step at a time. You have the power to make your healing journey an effective one.
Ahead, we have 10 different ways for you to heal from trauma. We'll first look at exactly what trauma is so you can be clear that it's what you're experiencing. Then I will share various steps you can take and tips you can try.
What is trauma?
The bare bones definition of trauma is that it is a negative event. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you there is no shortage of distressing events that can happen to us both in childhood and adulthood. Some common examples of trauma include:
- Physical, sexual, emotional childhood abuse and neglect
- Domestic violence
- Fatal or near fatal car accidents
- Natural disasters
- Sexual assaults
- Gun violence
- Suicide of a family member or close friend
- Medical negligence
- Sexual harrassment/toxic work environments
*This list is not exhaustive.
How am I suppose to react when I’m traumatized?
Your responses are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events. When you are at your most vulnerable state, there is no right or wrong way to think, feel, or behave. Your mind and body are under high alert and it will take time, maybe even considerable time for you to return to homeostasis. It is also common that even when we start to feel better, trauma may have left a lasting mark. However, there are ways to cope and recover.
What are the symptoms of trauma?
There are too many possible symptoms to list here but I will do my best to capture most of them. Please keep in mind that you will not have all of these symptoms. Your symptoms may also change over time and this is considered normal. Here are the most common symptoms post traumatic event: shock, denial, disbelief, confusion, difficulty concentrating, anger, irritability, moodiness, anxiety/fear/worry, guilt/shame, self-blame withdrawing or isolating, sadness/depressed/hopeless/helpless, disconnected/numb, insomnia, nightmares/flashbacks, fatigue/low energy, easily startled, difficulty concentrating, rapid heart rate, dizziness/lightheaded, on edge/agitation/hypervigilant, muscle aches/tension and tingling/pain.
But with the right self-help strategies and support, you can speed up your recovery.
What are the best treatments for trauma?
This is a bit controversial in my field and the truth is we learn more each day on scientific improvements with both treatment modalities and medication. I’m not going to be able to do this section justice today and I know that since I have been studying and healing trauma for more than two decades. Trauma is complex. People are complex.
I can tell you at this present time, my favorite modalities are the TREM model (Trauma Recovery & Empowerment), CPT (Cognitive Processing Therapy). CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is my favorite in terms of completing any thought work to address limited/false/unhealthy beliefs. I often combine these methods with Motivational Interviewing and Solution Focused Therapy. The truth is, I believe the best work is when we don’t treat clients as cookies. No cookie cutter approach across the board.
I need to mention Somatic Therapy. Embodiment work is huge for survivors as we often spend time freezing, fleeing, or fawning. We learned how to dissociate during trauma and during other times as well. Learning how to ground yourself, find your breath and practice simple mindfulness practices as well as yoga just makes sense. I am studying somatic therapy now and have attended several sessions myself. Very powerful work.
Mind - Body - Spirit Connection = healing
What else can I do?
Exercise and movement can actually help repair your nervous system. Exercise that is rhythmic and engages both your arms and legs—such as walking, running, swimming, basketball, or even dancing seem to work best. If you have physical limitations, simply move what you can. Some intentional movement is better than none. The same is true with mindfulness/meditation practice. Even a few minutes is better than none at all. Perfection is not needed or necessary for your healing journey.
You can also join our community of survivors who have been there and like you, are working hard to recover and heal. We believe in the power of community support and have two options for you:
Free Facebook Group: Facebook.com/groups/healthrivedream We have 400+ members and growing!
Paid Membership Program: This is Us: Healing from Trauma Together Community. This membership offers monthly coaching, course work, accountability, and an exclusive community forum. Each month you are provided with journaling prompts and self discovery exercises to assist you on your healing journey. Https://healingfromtraumatogether.com
To get your complimentary gift: healthrivedream.com/hope-tool