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We all have or will experience events in life that leave us hurt in some way. The injury can be physical or emotional or both. Studies show that emotional trauma can be more damaging and long lasting if not addressed.
Emotional trauma results from experiencing an extraordinarily stressful event that fractures your sense of security and causes you to feel helpless and vulnerable. This leaves you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories and anxiety that persist and can become debilitating over time.
If the trauma is left untreated, one can experience nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, depression, phobias, substance abuse, panic attacks, anger or irritability. It is possible to suffer from physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal distress, rapid heartbeat, or extreme fatigue. Emotional suffering can also lead to changes in personality, agitation, withdrawal, the decline in personal care, and hopelessness.
What can you do to overcome emotional trauma?
First, take some time to look back at your life and identify any hurts, old or new, that could use your attention. Now, implement these strategies to help you heal from these emotionally painful events.
1. Compliment yourself. You made it through! You are here and you’re alive. Whether your trauma involved only emotions or physical injury as well, the fact is that you’re strong enough to have survived.
2. Give yourself time to recuperate. You may not be completely recovered by tomorrow or next week or even next year. Healing from emotional trauma takes time and rest. Build in time in your days and weeks to rest and find respite.
3. Go easy on yourself. Depending on your emotional trauma, you may still be going to work and carrying out your everyday life while you’re healing. Maybe you didn’t finish every task you wanted to complete today. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can to get better and will soon be back in full swing.
4. Think positive. Thinking positive thoughts will actually help speed up your healing. The power of positive thinking is real and effective. When thinking troubling thoughts like, “I feel so sad today,” affirm yourself by saying, “I’m taking important steps each day to feel better,” and replace your thought with something positive.
5. Find time to do what you like. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day, staying in touch with the things you love will speed your recovery. Sit outdoors and watch the birds, work on the bookshelf you’re building or go for a walk. Setting aside time for self-fulfilling activities is energizing.
6. Let yourself cry. If you feel emotions building up inside you, it’s very natural to release them by having a good cry. Crying provides not only emotional relief but physical relief as well and will help you process through some of your pain.
7. Listen to music. Nothing brings joy to the soul in quite the same manner as music. Listen to your favorite music for at least 15 minutes each day. Sing along. Music will help you heal.
8. Pamper yourself. Take time for self care by engaging in activities that encourage and revitalize you. On your day off, lie on the couch and read a book. Play games all day with your kids. Take a nice long walk with your best friend or get a massage.
9. Watch funny movies or television shows. Laughing is good for your emotional healing. Find a comedy series and watch a few episodes every week. This is a kind of healthy escapism.
10. Incorporate physical activity into your day. Engage in some type of physical activity each day. It doesn’t have to be grueling, just get your body moving. Go for a swim, ride a bike, lift weights or get on the treadmill. Physical exercise releases endorphins which are the “feel good” hormones.
11. Surround yourself with the people you love. Play with your kids. Talk to your partner. Call your best friend or invite your brother over for a visit. Remind yourself of all the positive people you have in your life and take advantage of their loving care and support.
12. Recognize when you need professional help. A professional can help you work through challenging situations in your life. Be careful not to allow your emotional injuries to prevent you from living a full life. If you notice significant personality or life changes or if your symptoms of emotional trauma continue to persist, reach out for help.
Healing emotionally after a trauma takes time, patience, and effort. By putting these strategies into action, you can actively work towards your emotional recovery. Trust that you’ll be better soon and begin to experience the rich, fulfilling life that’s available to you!