Emotional trauma is everywhere, and so many of us are affected by it.
When we lose someone or something we love, or a stressful event breaks apart our sense of security, we can begin to view our environment and those around us as dangerous. Even if a certain event doesn’t cause us any physical harm, being in a state of fear can still cause us to become traumatized.
Before we get into the 5 steps of healing from emotional trauma, let’s take a quick look at common forms and symptoms that often accompany it.
Common types of emotional trauma:
• Divorce or relationship breakup
• Loss of health
• Losing a job
• Loss of financial stability
• Death of a pet
• Loss of a cherished dream
• A loved one’s serious illness
• Loss of a friendship
• Loss of safety after a trauma
• Selling the family home
As a result of emotional trauma, we begin to feel numb, disconnected and lose our trust in others. It can take a lot of time for this pain to go away, and for us to feel safe again. If the trauma we’ve experienced is psychological, we may suffer from troubling memories, anxiety and emotions.
Trauma causes a shock to our minds, bodies and souls, which can lead to emotional problems in the future. There are cognitive, behavioural, physical, and psychological reactions to emotional trauma.
Here are some of the most common emotional responses:
• Increased arousal
• Post traumatic stress disorder
• Avoidance of social settings, friends, loved ones
• Feelings of anger or irritability, reactiveness
• Sense of guilt and shame
• Grief and depression
• Self-image and views of the world become more cynical
• Sexual relationships suffer
• Drug and alcohol abuse
The emotional responses listed above can make us feel as though we’re going crazy or “losing it”. Have you ever noticed that, following a traumatic event, your physical health begins to show symptoms?
Whether the trauma caused direct physical harm, or the heavy energy of pain and negative emotion wore you down, both circumstances are accompanied by deep emotional pain which can make you ill. Insomnia, nightmares, chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks, edginess, agitation, muscle tension and a rapid heartbeat are all physical symptoms of emotional stress.
Untreated emotional trauma also has serious side effects.
If unaddressed and left untreated, emotional trauma can result in:
• Self-destructive and impulsive behaviours
• Uncontrollable reactive thoughts
• Feelings of shame, guilt, hopelessness, or despair
• Loss of former belief systems
• Compulsive behavioural problems
• Substance use challenges
• Sexual problems
• Inability to maintain close relationships or maintain appropriate friendships
• Hostility and argumentativeness
• Feelings of being threatened
When we experience emotional trauma, oftentimes, we’re told to focus on ourselves— but that can be much easier said than done. When it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, it’s challenging to even find the strength to lift your leg, and begin putting one foot in front of the other. In fact, finding strength to heal from emotional trauma can be utterly exhausting and debilitating at times— however, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your well-being.
It’s important to maintain the principle of “keeping it simple” when you begin your healing journey, to avoid overwhelm, frustration or the desire to give up entirely. With that in mind, here are five simple but necessary steps for healing:
5 Simple Steps to Healing From Emotional Trauma
1. Be Willing to Heal
The desire to feel better can be your best ally on the road to recovery. Don’t give in to the ego, which will try to tell you there’s something wrong with you: there’s nothing wrong with you. The reactions you experience because of trauma are only responses— they are not who you are.
2. Accept Support From Loved Ones
When healing from emotional trauma, it’s important to connect with others regularly and avoid isolating yourself. It takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to heal a person. Surrounding yourself with those who support, love and respect you will be invaluable on your path to healing.
3. Seek The Assistance of Trained Professionals
You may wish to attend individual or group therapy, seek out expert opinions and receive the help of someone trained in the field of emotional trauma, who you feel comfortable with and trust. Treatments may focus on education, stress management techniques, the release of body memories, and suppressed emotions that are causing physical and psychological pain.
4. Practice Meditation and Mindfulness
Meditation helps quiet the chatter of the mind, to allow you to experience wisdom, acceptance and a new appreciation for life. Emotional trauma gets stored inside the body, so in addition to therapy sessions, the body greatly benefits from entering thoughtless moments and having a mindfulness practice.
5. Incorporate Movement Into Your Daily Routine
Yoga and other forms of physical activity release endorphins, and make you feel safe and stable. It’s vital to ensure you regularly engage in physical activity to help create positive feelings which have been torn down from emotional trauma.
It may be hard to believe this now, but you must remember the heart does heal. Love yourself enough to believe that you deserve refuge from pain and suffering. With faith and willingness to take the right steps, you’ll experience new levels of joy, appreciation, and vitality once you’ve healed.
“If you are to free your heart, you must embrace your painful feelings, have faith that your thoughts will arise and cease of their accord. They will pass if you can face them head on, with kind eyes. Your thoughts and feelings will dissolve if you don’t try to hold on to them or push them away. Thinking will dissipate. Trust in this universal law of change.”
–Detox Your Heart: Meditations for Healing Emotional Trauma
T – Trust yourself, family, friends and professionals to support you
R – Recovery is a process that takes time and patience
A – Attend to yourself with love and self-care
U – Understand emotional trauma is not your fault
M – Meditation, Mindfulness, and Movement are essential for healing
A – Accept that you are a whole person