It’s a six letter word that conjures a lot of mixed emotions and pain for people. What do you think of when you think of trauma? Most likely you think of a painful emotional or physical event or injury. Since
most of us have experienced trauma in one form or another, I thought it would be particularly helpful to discuss how to cope with trauma.
Helpguide.org “Traumatic Stress” article has some tips that you can follow to help you cope with the pain of your trauma.
TRAUMA COPING TIPS:
1. Remember that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to deal with trauma. Your feelings are uniquely yours, and you shouldn’t let other people’s influence affect how you think and feel. (There is a caveat to this that I listed below in my personal tips.)
2. Do not overthink nor overanalyze your trauma. Doing this will just add to the physical ailments associated with overstimulating your nervous system.
3. At the same time, don’t disassociate or ignore your feelings. You need to acknowledge your feelings in a healthy way that will allow you to “let it out.”
4. Do not watch any form of media that is associated with the event. If your trauma is something that can be found on TV or Internet news, avoid exposing yourself to those forms of media, news, video clips, etc.
5. Be Proactive! Take action to get through your trauma.
A. Volunteer: Volunteer for something meaningful to you.
B. Connect: Find people who have experienced trauma and engage with them.
C. Work Out: Do any physical activity that you enjoy: bike riding, yoga, hiking, team sports, hit the gym, etc.
D. Reach Out: Get out into the world and engage with people who can help you feel “normal” and cope with your trauma. This means connecting or reconnecting with people who are not directly related to your trauma.
E. Release Stress: Really this can be anything that can help you relax. Examples include mindful breathing (e.g. deep inhales/exhales), sensory input (e.g. listening to music, smelling something good, having sex, etc.)
F. Continuing Routines: Do the things you normally or reintroduce normal activity to cope with trauma. These things may include work, school, running errands, cooking, playing with your kids, watching a movie, etc.
G. Eat Healthy! There has been so much research into how a healthy diet positively affects our moods. Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet can be especially beneficial, but make sure you supplement protein in some way.
MY PERSONAL TRAUMA COPING TIPS:
So now that you’ve read the research, let me give you a few insights of my own.
1. Create Art!: I can’t overemphasize this enough. Whether your art is through drawing, painting, sewing, writing, singing, playing an instrument, building something, acting, etc., you need to create something positive to manifest a positive frame of mind.
2. Don’t Play the Blame Game: If your trauma involves someone else hurting you or someone you love, do your best not to pin all of the blame on them. A traumatic event can have many facets, and accepting personal responsibility, or keeping an open mind as to “why” someone did something hurtful, is a way to alleviate your stress while keeping a realistic frame of mind.
3. Find Spirituality: This doesn’t have to have a religious underpinning, but it can. Spirituality can also mean being mindful and doing things like meditation and Tai Chi.
4. Accept that which you can’t Change: Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed with the “what-ifs”. What if I had done this or that, would that outcome have been different? This is an exercise in futility and won’t get you anywhere. You can’t change the past, but you affect the future.
5. Be Grateful for the “Here and Now”: You can do a lot more good by focusing on the “here and now”. If you are mindful of all you still have, you can help let go of the trauma. Think of the simple things: you’re alive, you’re breathing, you’re healthy, you have a roof over your head, you’re not hungry, etc.
6. Manifest Your Destiny: Not only can you be happy about what you have, but you can also create your own future by your thoughts and actions. If you do good, good will come to you.
TAKE AWAYS ON COPING WITH TRAUMA:
Remember that you are not alone. Most people have experienced some form of trauma at least once in their lives. There are a lot of ways to cope and deal with your trauma. The most important for me is creating art. If you have a way to express yourself artistically, I think you can overcome anything. But again, there are many ways to cope with trauma, and you can find a collection of ways that suit you best. Try them all and tell me what worked for you!