There is hope

Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. It can also be triggered by something ongoing, like physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.

Although you can't undo the past, you can heal from it. But the first step is recognizing how things that have happened to you may be affecting your life.

Healing from Trauma

Tip 1:
Get moving

Trauma literally does something to you physically. It disrupts your body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyperarousal and fear. Exercise and movement lessen these symptoms by burning off adrenaline and releasing endorphins.

Tip 2:
Don’t isolate

Following a trauma, you may want to withdraw from others, but separating yourself only makes things worse. Connecting with people, especially face-to-face, will help you heal. Participate in social activities, volunteer, join a support group or talk to a therapist.

Tip 3:
Self-regulate your nervous system

No matter how agitated or out of control you feel, you can change your arousal system and calm yourself. Things like mindful breathing, sensory input and staying grounded help relieve the anxiety associated with trauma and give you a greater sense of control.

Tip 4:
Take care of your health

Living a healthy lifestyle increases your ability to cope with the effects of trauma. This includes getting plenty of sleep, avoiding alcohol and drugs, eating a well-balanced diet and reducing stress.

When to seek professional therapy for trauma

Recovering from trauma takes time, and everyone heals at their own pace. But if months have passed and your symptoms aren’t letting up, you may need professional help from a trauma expert. Seek help for trauma if you’re:

  • Having trouble functioning at home, school or work
  • Suffering from severe fear, anxiety or depression
  • Unable to form close, satisfying relationships
  • Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares or flashbacks
  • Increasingly avoiding anything that reminds you of the trauma
  • Emotionally numb and disconnected from others
  • Using alcohol or drugs to feel better

Adapted from

Trauma 101

An overview of trauma, including symptoms, risk factors and treatment

What’s PTSD

Details regarding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Trauma Revealed Today

A TED Talk about how childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime

Scars of Our Childhood

Information about how things we suffer as kids mold us

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