How To Heal Yourself From Emotional And Psychological Trauma

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Trauma
Alone and lonely young girl feeling depressed

People will have memories of their past experiences. Some memories are good, while others might be bad. Being reminded of specific experiences could elicit positive or negative feelings. Some memories have more impact than others, even if it’s not intended. 

Likewise, emotional and psychological trauma occurs due to memories from adverse events that lead to difficulties in performing day-to-day activities. Psychological trauma can cause you to have trouble dealing with negative anxiety, emotions, and painful memories. It can also result in you feeling detached, numb, and incapable of putting one’s trust in other individuals. 

Being in a traumatic event can make you feel miserable as days go by. While you can indeed recover again, there are steps you need to take to get started on that path. This could involve activities as easy as going outside to get some sunlight or seeking professional support. 

Trauma
Psychologist comforting depressed and worried patient with phobia

Symptoms Of Psychological And Emotional Trauma

Many people experience a broad range of emotional and physical responses to trauma. Because of this, the journey towards healing is different for everyone.  Symptoms of emotional and psychological stress can include:

Emotional And Psychological Symptoms:

  • Anxiety and fear
  • Shock, disbelief, or denial
  • Shame, guilt, and self-blame
  • Anger, mood swings, and irritability
  • Confusion, difficulties in focus or concentration
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Feeling numb or disconnected
  • Social withdrawal

Physical Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Being startled easily
  • Pains and aches
  • Muscle tension

 

How To Heal Yourself From Emotional And Psychological Trauma

Now that we discussed the symptoms, here are the ways that you can do to recover from trauma:

Find The Right Support

Bouncing back after a traumatic experience takes time, and not all can heal within the same timeframe. Seeking professional help from a therapist or trauma expert can be ideal. As dealing with trauma can be painful, scary, and possibly re-traumatizing, the healing process is best done with the help of a well-trained therapist or trauma expert. 

You have to find a therapist you’re comfortable sharing feelings and thoughts. If you feel that respect, safety, and understanding aren’t there, you can look for another. 

Here are some questions that can assist you in assessing a therapist:

  • Were you dealt with respect and compassion?
  • Did you feel at ease in sharing your issues with the therapist?
  • Do you think that you could develop to trust your therapist?
  • Were your concerns appropriately taken, or were they dismissed or downplayed?
  • Did you think your therapist realized what you were sharing?

Take note that finding the right therapist takes time, and you may need trial and error to see who’s most appropriate.

Besides therapists and trauma experts, you can also find support from people who’ll listen without judgment. This could involve getting help from trusted friends and family members.

It can also be good to join support groups. It’s helpful to be around people who’ve undergone the same situations as you and find a community that fosters understanding and social connection.

Overall, finding support regarding trauma is beneficial. It can help you interact with people who have gone through the same experiences as you and are also on a healing journey. You can have more info online if you want to know more.

Get Moving

Your body’s natural equilibrium can be disrupted by trauma. So, if you want to free your adrenaline and release endorphins (neurochemicals that reduce stress, relieve pain, and enhance mood), then regular exercises could help.

You can try:

  • Rhythmic Exercises: Exercises that involve both your legs and arms, such as running, dancing, basketball, walking, and swimming can work best.
  • Exercise For 30 Minutes Or More Each Day: Exercising this way can improve your emotional and physical well-being. Likewise, having a few 10-minute workouts throughout the day can also be ideal. The health benefits of regular exercising are a great bonus as well

Similarly, you can add a mindfulness element by concentrating on your body movements while exercising. This is an excellent approach to distract yourself from negative thoughts. To start, you can:

  • Concentrate on your body and how it feels as you move
  • Notice the rhythm of your breath
  • Feel the ground at your feet or the wind on your skin
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Overall, being aware of these sensations can ground you in the present moment and give you the chance to have a greater sense of fulfillment and create a sense of mindfulness, calmness, and peace while performing any activity. 

Avoid Drugs And Alcohol

For many traumatized persons, taking drugs and alcohol are effective ways to forget the pain and trouble. However, these are unhealthy coping mechanisms. What’s worse about taking drugs and alcohol while being in trauma is that you can get addicted, resulting in other emotional and mental issues. For instance, the long-term effects of drinking too much alcohol include:

  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Delirium (hallucinations, confusion, disorientation)

Likewise, some examples of mental health issues that can result from long-term use of drugs are:

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression 
  • Paranoia

Get treatment fast if you think you might have become addicted because of your trauma.

Have Proper Sleep

After a traumatic event, sleep issues can become a common occurrence. Alertness and hyperarousal connected to the effects of the body’s stress response usually result in insomnia. Many individuals typically wake up more during the evening and have difficulty falling asleep.

In addition, trauma can also impact one’s sleep pattern. That means it can alter the body’s sleep cycles and stages. Likewise, your brain can also get overloaded with adrenaline and epinephrine after trauma. This results in these neurochemicals overstimulating your brain, leading you to have difficulty calming down. And so, to maintain safety, your brain is prepared to send your body into a fight or flight mode at any time, even if you’re trying to think that the danger has passed.

Because of trauma’s adverse effects on your sleep, it’s vital to know how to get adequate rest during the night. Below are some ways to get back to your regular sleeping pattern:

    • Use An App For Sleep-Inducing Sounds: Multiple sound applications offer happy and sleepy sounds. The most recommended are the Free Bed Time Fan, and White Noise Free Sleep Sounds app.
  • Develop A Routine: It’s good to create a specific routine 30 minutes before sleeping. This will help put your body back in rhythm and prepare your mind for relaxation. This could include having a warm bath, drinking decaffeinated tea, and preventing yourself from watching television and using mobile devices.
  • Try Breathing Techniques: Try various breathing methods to sleep better. But if you have a respiratory condition, such as asthma, it’s best to consult your doctor first.
  • Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): Also referred to as deep muscle relaxation, this activity is designed to keep you calm. The idea is to tense—but not strenuously—the muscles and release tension. This movement is ideal for tranquilizing the whole body and calming the mind.

Find A Creative Outlet

The constancy and intensity of nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance and other challenges can be ceaseless when you’re going through trauma. Overthinking, overwhelming emotions, and replaying traumatizing events over and over again are common among depressed and recently traumatized people. 

You can keep yourself busy through creative activities to help keep your mind off those negative things. You can try the following activities to keep you preoccupied: 

  • Doodling in your notebook
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Writing short stories
  • Painting
  • Singing
  • Calligraphy
  • Cooking

Being creative through the arts can give you a healthy outlet. That’s because not everyone has the right words to express their trauma. As such, arts can offer a way to express thoughts and feelings non-verbally. 

Likewise, art engages the mind and the body and prevents people from finding other unhelpful coping mechanisms.

Practice Grounding Techniques

When you’ve undergone trauma, you can, at certain moments, be engulfed by painful memories, feelings, and thoughts. Sometimes for no obvious reason, you can begin to feel deeply emotional, perhaps scared or sad, that you begin to cry even if you don’t know why. This occurs when our mind is triggered into an old memory, leading to negative feelings all over again. 

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This is where grounding techniques set in. They’re designed to assist you in being ‘grounded’ in the present—not thinking of the things that already happened or being engulfed by personal feelings or thoughts.

Grounding techniques can involve practices that can assist you in feeling more connected with your surroundings and body. This consists of techniques that reconcentrate your attention far from undesired memories, distressing feelings, or overwhelming thoughts.

You can utilize grounding techniques to generate space from undesirable feelings in almost any circumstances, but they’re also beneficial for improving:

  • Well-being
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dissociation
  • Mood
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Stress

How people ground themselves is personal. What works for one individual may cause flashbacks and anxiety in others. And so, you may have to conduct some trial and error to know the preferable grounding techniques.

Likewise, here are some examples of grounding techniques that you can apply:

Sound

  • Communicate out loud about what you hear and see or what your thoughts or activities are at present.
  • Pump up the radio or play your favorite song.

Sight

  • Read a magazine or book
  • Play any game that will distract you through your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • Watch your favorite movie or television show.

Touch

  • Drink a cold or hot beverage
  • Cuddle and pet your dog or cat at home
  • Hold an ice cube and allow it to melt in your hands.

Journal Regularly

You can try journaling, also called expressive writing, if you’ve gone through trauma. Journaling is a writing habit that can help you process the things you’ve experienced. It can also help you envision a path forward. With expressive writing, you can have less anxiety, stress, and depression. It can also offer you more focus and clarity. 

The effects that writing has as an instrument for healing have been known. A University of Texas social psychologist named James Pennebaker examined the impact of a particular type of writing on mental health in 1986. After this kind of examination, over 200 research studies have shown that ’emotional writing’ can help a person’s physical and emotional well-being.

If you’re new to journaling, you can experiment with different days, frequencies, and durations until you find your natural rhythm. For instance, you can try writing in the evening on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Below are some tips if you’re still new to journaling:

  • Look for a quiet time and place to write, make sure you’ll have few distractions.
  • Spend some time thinking about how your traumatic event has affected you and your life.
  • Start writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings concerning the traumatic event.
  • Once done, notice any changes in thoughts or feelings as an outcome of writing.
  • Though writing has long-term benefits, writing about your trauma will naturally result in some undesirable thoughts or feelings, so ensure you have a strategy for controlling stress, such as grounding techniques or deep breathing.
  • Repeat steps one to five, writing for the same topic for at least two more days. Writing about one similar topic for consecutive days has been found to assist in sorting out and improving the clarity of thoughts and feelings regarding stressful events.

Many people try to move forward without spending enough time speculating or processing what’s happening. That’s why the regular practice of expressive writing can be helpful as it keeps a person grounded. You don’t have to spend long periods. Writing for even a few minutes a day or whenever you’re feeling triggered can be good.

Wrapping Up

Emotional and psychological trauma is the outcome of grievously stressful events. This can also cause a person to have difficulty dealing with the daily occurrences of life, making one feel disconnected, numb, and unable to trust others. But despite all that, healing is still possible. It would just take time and a little bit of work. 

This article provides several ways to put yourself on a healing journey. These activities include regular exercises, seeking support, being creative, and sleeping properly.

 

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