The American Psychological Association defines trauma as “an emotional response to a terrible event.” We will all experience some form of trauma in our lifetime caused by different factors including, but not limited to, the loss of a family member or friend, an accident, failed relationship, loss of employment, or illness. Experiencing a traumatic event can affect us physically and psychologically. You may experience flashbacks, intense feelings of distress, and physical symptoms like headaches, nausea, and fatigue. It may create a lot of anxiety, fear, helplessness, insecurities, and can affect motivation, self-esteem, and lead to a lack of self-care. People who experience a trauma often isolate themselves and struggle with asking for help. Additionally, chronic symptoms of trauma can lead to long-term health problems such as heart disease, chronic pain, gastrointestinal conditions, and cancer.
Healing from trauma is possible. Oftentimes, we experience trauma for long periods of time and therefore we should not expect an over night healing and instead recognize and accept that it will take time and energy. It is often helpful to think of the healing process as a part of our life journey. The journey to healing will require an investment of yourself in various tasks as you work with a professional to develop strategies that will help manage your symptoms. It is very important that, as you go on your journey to healing, you remember that each person's journey is different. Celebrate each step you take as each step is your own personal progress!
The following is a short list of steps to healing from trauma; however, I encourage you to reach out to a professional for further help and support on your journey.
Be willing to heal. The most important step is recognizing you can heal and that you do not need to continue living a life of isolation and fear.
Accept support. Connecting with others and allowing them to help is so important. Your support system can provide you with the push you may sometimes need to keep going and they can provide you with encouragement when progress is made.
Seek help from a trained professional. A trained professional will be able to provide you with different treatment options for developing the strategies that will work for you specifically.
Practice meditation and mindfulness. Meditation helps to quiet the mind and allows space for acceptance and appreciation of your present life.
Incorporate daily exercise. Physical activity is a natural and effective treatment which enhances your feelings of well-being through the release of endorphins. Any form of exercise that gets you moving can help so choose something you enjoy doing (i.e. yoga, walking, biking, etc.).
"Trauma creates change you DON'T choose. Healing is about creating change that you DO choose." - Michele Rosenthal