Cope with psychological trauma
Psychological trauma, whether from childhood or adulthood, whether involving abuse (sexual, physical, emotional) death, divorce, illness or displacement, can leave profound wounds which can interfere with our relationships with others, with ourselves, and with our lives.
It is important to be aware of these wounds to understand how they might be affecting our lives and relationships, and to learn how to manage them in order to minimise the negative impact they can have on us and on our lives.
As we have seen, psychological trauma can manifest as depression, anxiety, insomnia, poor attention and concentration, poor memory, mood swings, irritability, exhaustion and other mental health symptoms.
Below are some suggestions for helping us to cope with psychological trauma, in order to diminish the negative impact it can have on our lives.
One of the most effective ways to heal from psychological trauma is to engage in mental therapy. While self-therapy can be helpful for trauma patients, it is advisable to always work with a therapist who will be able to help us become aware of our traumas (which are often buried in our subconscious, and can be healed once we bring them into our consciousness) and also support us through the healing process.
Becoming conscious of our traumas can itself be traumatic, as burying them may have been a coping mechanism, so it is always advisable to work with the support of a good therapist when delving into past trauma.
The connection with a good therapist can be very healing in itself. The therapist can become a parental figure who can help us to reparent our wounded inner child, but also offer us emotional support and guidance to explore our trauma and the effect that it can have on our lives and our relationships.
When faced with emotional trauma, having a supportive community can be very healing. Knowing that we are not alone, that we have someone to talk to, and that we are part of a community which can provide a sense of belonging and support can give us the sense of connection and security which can help us heal.
A spiritual or religious community or practice can be healing, providing a sense of connection, love and support, with others, and/or with a higher power.
Having a sense of purpose, and feeling that our lives have meaning beyond ourselves, can help us to heal from trauma. Equally, even if our purpose is simply our own survival, this can help us to heal, as we focus on the simple daily acts that are required for our survival in this world. A religious or spiritual practice can help with a sense of meaning and purpose which may in turn help you heal from trauma.
Practicing mind-body therapies such as acupuncture, reflexology, neurofeedback. yoga, qi gong, etc… can be helpful for trauma.
They can help balance the autonomic nervous system, calming the sympathetic response, and boosting the parasympathetic response. They can improve hormonal and neurotransmitter balance.
They can help to access trauma which is stored in the body and subconscious in a way that can be gentler and easier than through talk therapy.
- Trauma can be stored in our cellular memory — remembered in the cells of our body — and by working on the body, we can help heal psychological trauma
- Trauma can also be stored in our sub-conscious mind which can be difficult to access through our rational mind, but can be accessible through our body
Sometimes, no matter how much mental therapy we do, only body-mind work can truly access the stored trauma in our cells and subconscious, to heal it.
Trauma stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, and can cause chronically high stress levels which can continue long after the traumatic events have passed, which can throw hormone levels out of balance, and put us in a state of chronic hyper arousal.
The relaxation response boosts the parasympathetic (calming) nervous system, which can help to reduce states of hyper arousal, bringing about hormonal balance and physical and mental healing.
Meditation can help us to boost our relaxation response and calm our nervous system, which can be helpful in coping with trauma.
Meditation can also help us to access our subconscious, and become more aware of any thoughts, feelings and beliefs which may arise from past trauma.
Trauma can cause chronic arousal and stress, which can lead to hormonal imbalance, inflammation, gut issues, neurotransmitter imbalance etc…
In order to cope with trauma, it is important to make sure that your physiology is strong, and that you are absorbing the right nutrients which will help you to make the right hormones and neurotransmitters, heal your gut, reduce inflammation, and which will help you maintain calm and resilience. Read more about how to correct your nutrition and supplement by clicking on the links below.
Trauma, whether from the past, or in the present, can negatively affect our sleep. And yet sleeping regularly and well is important for us to maintain strength and resilience to deal with the mental health issues that can arise from past trauma.
Regular exercise can help us cope with the long effects of trauma by helping to balance our nervous system and stress hormones.
Acute or chronic trauma can negatively affect our breathing patterns, which can in turn lead to further anxiety, panic, and poor breathing, creating a vicious circle.
Poor breathing patterns can become habitual, and it is important to consciously reverse these breathing habits by practicing techniques for better breathing.
Being in nature and natural light can calm our nervous system, balance our hormones and neurotransmitters, and help us gain perspective on whatever we may be going through. As such, regular exposure to nature and natural light can help us cope with trauma.