Declare a higher power
Declaring a higher power can keep you focused on your goals while helping you heal from past traumatic experiences. It offers you a beacon of hope during a time that seems dark and hopeless.
Your higher power doesn’t have to be a religious deity although it can be if you’re a person of faith, a higher power can take the form of:
- Support groups.
- Feelings of love
- Laws of nature
- The concept of freedom
Additionally, focusing on a higher power during your recovery process can help guide you and motivate you to stay sober if your trauma has caused you to struggle with any form of substance or alcohol abuse and can also help you work towards your future goals. Having a higher power can also help you fight off feelings of:
Engage in breathwork
Breathwork is a therapeutic term used to describe various techniques used in therapy to help clients ground themselves and find relief from life’s issues including but not limited to:
There are a myriad of breathwork techniques, all of which are focused on breathing in and out. A few examples of these include:
- Circular breathing: This involves continuous breathing in and out without holding your breath at any point.
- 4-7-8 breathing technique: This can be done with closed or open eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four, hold your breath while counting to seven, then exhale through your mouth while counting to eight.
- Zen breathing: Breathe in slowly through your nose, then exhale through pursed lips.
While all these techniques can offer help with healing from trauma, it is important to seek the guidance of a professional to lead you through these techniques properly. Potential side effects of breathing exercises are:
- Heart palpitations
- Tingling in the body
Webster’s Dictionary defines meditation as, “engaging in mental exercise to reach a heightened level of spiritual awareness.” Not only can meditation bring you a sense of enlightenment, but it can also help you heal from trauma by allowing you to clear your mind and process the bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions that arise from past and present trauma.
Meditation allows you to recognize the effects of trauma on the body and slowly work through your trauma responses. Studies also show that meditation can help treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the fight or flight response.
Make meaningful connections
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory and five-tier model. The third tier is called love and belonging needs. Love and belonging needs according to Maslow’s theory are “friendships and family bonds—both with biological family (parents, siblings, children) and chosen family (spouses and partners). Physical and emotional intimacy ranging from sexual relationships to intimate emotional bonds are important to achieving a feeling of elevated kinship. Additionally, membership in social groups contributes to meeting this need, from belonging to a team of coworkers to forging an identity in a union, club, or group of hobbyists“.
Making meaningful connections is a powerful step in healing from trauma because trauma typically stems from broken connections. A particular obstacle in your life might have caused severed connections with you and your family, romantic partner, and/or friends.
The goal of making meaningful connections is to restore connections with people gradually. Perhaps your family has become a toxic unit for you. In lieu of biological family, healthy connections can be made with and are not limited to:
- Social groups
- Support groups
Eat a proper diet
Those who suffer from trauma may gravitate towards overly consuming comfort foods or even develop eating disorders as coping mechanisms. However, this can lead to unhealthy weight gain and other bodily issues. Instead, there are an array of fruits and vegetables that are packed with vitamins and nutrients to help calm the effects of PTSD and reduce the occurrence of stress hormones such as cortisol. A few of those helpful foods include but are not limited to:
- Blueberries: lowers PTSD symptoms
- Cheese and milk: increase the production of endorphins which improves mood
- Chamomile Tea: is known to include properties that reduce feelings of anger, agitation, and depression.
Studies show that stress and trauma can manifest as tightness and muscular imbalances in the body. Putting the body in motion helps to release stress-reducing hormones and endorphins which can produce feelings of joy. Exercise also helps to heal the physical effects of trauma in the body and reduce negative feelings in individuals suffering from PTSD.
Beginning an exercise and slowly progressing through it can allow an individual to gain a greater sense of self-awareness slowly but surely. Below are a few exercises you can try to help reduce stress and the physical manifestations of trauma:
Though working out can be very beneficial to your journey toward healing from trauma, it is advised that you speak with your medical professional before starting a new physical fitness program.
Journaling about the fear, grief, anger, or anxiety that might appear in your life is a positive step in the right direction toward healing from trauma. Trauma can negatively affect how we process our emotions and self-regulate, so writing things down can help you to better regulate your thoughts.
Some professionals believe that writing even helps individuals who suffer from trauma overcome their emotional inhibitions. While speaking about your emotions may prove very difficult, writing offers an alternative to expressing those locked-up emotions. Potential writing prompts you can use while journaling includes but are not limited to:
- Write about negative feelings you have towards yourself that are false.
- Where is your safe space? Describe it. Are there other people there?
- What does the word forgiveness mean to you? Whom might you need to forgive?
Healing from trauma can prove to be a difficult road, however, you don’t have to do all of it alone. It’s our hope that with these tips you’ll be better prepared to heal in the long run. For more information on mental health matters, please visit some of our other helpful articles. You’ll be glad you did.