How to Allow Yourself To Heal from Trauma
"It's okay if the only thing that you did today was breathe." -Unknown
Life can be beautiful, a challenge, a learning experience and can also have ugly moments that occur. As we all know, life has its ups and downs and twists and turns. Things happen; we manage them and are usually able to get through them. Sometimes, those twists and turns can turn into downward spirals were "getting through" and "moving on" can seem impossible. Trauma is one of the many instances that can make our worlds seem as if they have spiraled out of control. Trauma, according to the Oxford languages, is defined as meaning: a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. According to the American Psychological Association, trauma symptoms include shock and denial after immediate exposure.
According to the American Psychological Association, long-term effects include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea that can last up to 6 months or even be lifelong. With all the pressures of the world and society, we are expected to heal quickly after a trauma/significant life changes and resume normally scheduled activities. Three days for bereavement and then back to work. Three months postpartum…no problem, back to work you go. It can feel as if life keeps moving forward and we are required to keep pushing with it no matter the circumstances or mind state we are in after experiencing a distressing event. In addition to external factors that require us to heal quickly, we as individuals also force ourselves to heal faster without allotting the proper time or self-care for healing.
Time and time again, we wish that we were normal again; we tell ourselves that we have to get back to where we used to be. We beat ourselves mentally when we don't react or behave as we are used to before the current event that has shaken up our lives. Forcing yourself to heal is counterproductive and makes managing the trauma symptoms that have occurred in your life more challenging. Thankfully, there is a way to allow yourself to heal even when it feels as if the cards are stacked against you. Unfortunately, we cannot control our family, society, or places of employment's pushy ways, but we can control our ability to have grace for ourselves.
Steps for Allowing Yourself to Heal:
Be Kind to Yourself: We often take extra care to speak kindly to others, but our internal dialogue can be harsh and demeaning. Take the time to speak kindly to yourself. Give yourself compliments. Tell yourself that it is "okay not to be okay."
Practice gratitude: When we have experienced a negative event, it is often difficult to notice those shining moments in life and within ourselves. Give yourself praise. Notice your small accomplishments, large accomplishments, and attempts to do anything.
Self-care: Trauma symptoms can often be debilitating and make it very difficult for us to perform daily tasks. To practice self-care, eat healthy, exercise, get proper rest, spend time with friends and family and do something you enjoy daily.
Remind yourself that Healing is a Marathon, not a Sprint: Exploring, processing, finding strengths, and understanding your feelings and emotions can be a difficult journey for many individuals. Healing is not linear. One day can be very difficult, while another day can seem easy. Give yourself the space and time to heal at your own pace without the pressures of yourself or others.
Seek Therapy: Sometimes, healing on your own can be overwhelming and confusing. Seeking help from a counselor can assist you with your healing journey by teaching coping skills and exploring and processing your trauma at your own pace.
Practice being the positive light for yourself when all the other areas of your life appear to be pushing you towards a speedy recovery. When so many negative aspects come into your life, it is important to be that beacon of light for yourself. You owe that to you. Thank yourself by giving your mind, body, and soul the time and space it needs to heal.