We talk about how struggle and failure are necessary parts of the human experience, but we rarely discuss trauma with such cavalier acceptance. Many of us consider ourselves lucky for evading trauma throughout our lives, while many of us are defined by it and constantly working on it. The truth is that trauma exists for us all, in ways both large and small.
Real, intense, massive trauma happens, and we can heal from it, though it isn’t easy. We also experience smaller, seemingly less significant or scary types of trauma that we tend to push down and dismiss, but those smaller traumas are still traumas, and the effects can be cumulative when not recognized and worked through. So where do we start?
Jennifer Galvan, an adolescent, adult, and family licensed clinical psychologist, is our No. 1 woman when it comes to these heavy-hitting matters of the heart and mind. She recognizes how overwhelming it can be, so she shared with us a few ways we can begin to cope with our past traumas, no matter the size, in an effort to prevent a buildup of triggers and unraveling from occurring in the future.
Time will allow the psyche to integrate the trauma that has occurred and create space to work toward accepting it, learning to live with it, and grieving the loss(es) that occurred from it.
Talking about the trauma in individual therapy sessions, support groups, or with friends and family can offer relief and provide an environment where others may be able to share similar traumas they’ve experienced and tools around how to cope.
Using mindful breathing techniques (e.g. breathe in and count to 10, breathe out and count to 10), grounding techniques (e.g. walking barefoot, feeling the chair you are sitting on), and having a tangible object to increase self-soothing (e.g. soft blanket, playing with your pet, putting on a specific song) are some ways you can begin regulating your nervous system when you’re feeling anxious, agitated, or dysregulated.
The trauma can feel like it is taking over all parts of your life at times. It can be helpful to participate in social activities, reconnect with old friends, or even volunteer in order to create some normalcy.
Repeat positive affirmations.
Replacing the negative thoughts with positive affirmations shifts our minds to focus on the future and reframes negative thoughts.
Increase self-care and create a routine.
Trauma can pull us further away from our own bodies and needs, leaving us feeling more disconnected and deprived. Take a gentle approach with yourself as you create a routine that includes a balanced diet and exercise.”
We love these simple, concise ways to start healing. Of course, deeper traumas take deeper work, and finding the help of a professional comes highly recommended. These tips just remind us that nurturing ourselves is possible, and in small, meaningful ways, we can begin to understand new levels of self-care, and what it means to take our mental and emotional well-being into our own hands.
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