Trauma is an emotional response to a stressful event. Trauma can be due to a one-off event, such as a horrible car accident, or something longer lasting, such as emotional abuse or bullying. Following a traumatic event, people can develop numerous emotional and physical responses, including anger, anxiety, irritability, trouble concentrating, feelings of sadness and hopelessness, dissociation, fatigue, and insomnia. It’s tough dealing with trauma, and the process can significantly negatively impact one’s life. With proper care and effort, healing from trauma is possible. Here are five ways one can cope with trauma.
Steering Clear of Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Healing from trauma requires time and effort. Sometimes, people do not take the necessary steps; they rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms like binge eating, excessive alcohol intake, substance abuse, or oversleeping.
You may think avoiding thoughts about the issue will help you get through, but it will only suppress your feelings and is an unhealthy coping mechanism. Suppressed feelings manifest into severe anxiety and depression, leading to delayed healing. Make a conscious effort to steer clear of harmful coping mechanisms, maintain healthy eating and sleeping habits, and confront your feelings about your circumstances.
Incorporating relaxation techniques like deep breathing or guided meditation will help you deal with anxiety and negative emotions. Deep breathing relaxes one’s heart, reduces rapid shallow breathing, and shakes off the nauseous sensation in the stomach. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a typical and easy deep breathing exercise. It requires inhaling through your nose for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling through the mouth for eight seconds. Meditation also relaxes you by eliminating negative thoughts and making you feel calm and at peace. Guided meditation exercises that include positive affirmations can also help you be more positive about your circumstances.
Hobbies can keep you distracted and calm, which is crucial when you heal from trauma. If you have a hobby, do not abandon it. If not, consider picking up a new hobby. Hobbies like painting, baking, and knitting can be therapeutic and relaxing. Physical hobbies like yoga, dancing, running, or swimming are also beneficial as exercise reduces stress hormone levels like adrenaline and cortisol. Engaging in a hobby you enjoy produces hormones called endorphins, which act as the body’s natural painkillers and improve your mood. Endorphin production can help with sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression, which are trauma responses.
Sharing your feelings helps you release emotions you might have bottled up, making them easier to process. If you feel ready to talk, leaning on your loved ones and sharing your feelings and experiences with them can be beneficial. They may have gone through similar experiences and may be able to help you. Talking can help you feel seen and heard and your feelings validated. On tough days when even everyday tasks become arduous, your loved ones can help you with small chores, household tasks, or other obligations.
Every individual and their trauma is unique. Some people heal on their own without requiring professional help. Mental health professionals can help people find healthy ways to deal with their trauma, so they don’t resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Seek professional help if you or your loved ones start isolating themselves, experience suicidal thoughts, or if anxiety or depression dramatically interferes with day-to-day life. Psychologists trained in evidence-based trauma therapy techniques can help you cope with traumatic stress and heal properly.
There is no fixed recovery time when coping and dealing with emotional trauma. Working through your trauma can be painful, scary, draining, and require time and effort. Still, it’s not impossible. With proper love and care, and professional help when necessary, healing from your trauma is very much possible.