Trauma is a topic that many people prefer to not discuss but talking about it to a trusted friend or professional can relieve a lot of weight from a person’s shoulders. Healing takes time, but with a good support system, it is possible to become whole again. While everyone’s journey of recovery may be different, these practical steps can aid in the healing process.
Create a Safe Environment
After experiencing trauma, it’s important for you to feel safe in your home or work environment. If you are a survivor of domestic violence, this may involve relocating or temporarily moving to a shelter. Otherwise, if you live with others who are supportive, you can remain in your current residence and take other steps by creating a safety plan. You may choose to travel with a friend, carry pepper spray, change the locks, or sleep with a security blanket.
Recognize That It’s Not Your Fault
This is extremely important, but the realization may take time. Regardless of the type of trauma you’ve experienced, it was not caused by any wrongdoing on your part. That’s why you need to take small steps towards caring for yourself whether it be treating yourself to a pedicure, spending a night out with friends, or just curling up with a cup of hot cocoa and reading a good book. Let go of any undue guilt and start loving yourself. Eventually, you may come to forgive the other person involved. Maybe you won’t, but over time letting go of the fear and anger is more beneficial for you than the other party.
Return to Your Former Routine
Routines may seem boring to many people, but they can provide a sense of comfort and reduce anxiety levels. If your trauma occurred decades ago, or you did not have a routine established prior to the trauma, create one! This may be as simple as a daily morning jog, dinner out on Tuesdays, or attending a support group on Thursday evenings. Having a set schedule will reduce your levels of stress which is important in the early stages of trauma recovery.
Know Your Triggers
Just as a war veteran can experience flashbacks at the sound of fireworks, you too may be triggered by certain sounds, smells, or places. It could be as simple as the scent of a particular aftershave or driving past the location where the trauma occurred. Although desensitizing yourself with the help of a therapist may work in overcoming your triggers, this method isn’t appropriate for everyone. Initially, you may feel compelled to avoid your triggers, but it is possible to develop coping mechanisms that can help you to work through them.
Seek Professional Counseling
No, this doesn’t mean you are crazy. You just experienced something horrific that no normal person is equipped to deal with. Unfortunately, your friends and family may not understand what you’re going through. A licensed professional counselor can bring you out of that dark place and back into a life filled with healing and hope.