If you try to do it on your own, you will never figure out how to recover from emotional trauma.
Hey Mamas! Time for some tough, but gentle, loving! While we might think that physical pain is more damaging than emotional pain, a 2014 study from the University of Michigan and SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse shows that it’s not.
In fact, researchers found that when it comes to pain tolerance and recovery after a painful event, emotional trauma can linger and have negative effects on quality of life far longer than physical pain.
These feelings can make it hard to go about your day-to-day routine while coping with emotional trauma on your own. But there’s hope! You can recover from emotional trauma with the right help and support. Are you ready to heal? If you are unsure, please take our FREE Emotional Trauma Quiz below.
What is an Emotional Trauma?
Emotional trauma is the result of experiencing or witnessing a deeply distressing event. A single event can cause it, or a series of events that eventually lead to chronic pain and stress.
It’s normal for people to experience emotional distress after experiencing or witnessing an emotionally upsetting event, such as the death of a loved one or being sexually assaulted. Sometimes, however, this distress may be so overwhelming that it overwhelms your ability to cope and take care of yourself.
When it comes to emotional trauma, we’re talking about something more than simply feeling sad—it’s the aftermath of an event that has left an imprint on your body and mind in ways that are difficult to articulate.
Many things can cause this kind of traumatic experience: a near fatal birth; the death of a loved one; sexual assault; domestic violence; car accidents; natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes or fires; witnessing violence in public places; …the list goes on and on!
Symptoms of Emotional Trauma
Sometimes, it is hard to recognize the signs and symptoms of emotional trauma because they are different for each person. The most common symptoms of emotional trauma include:
Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
Feelings of panic, anxiety, and fear
Feelings of anger and irritability
Feelings of shame, and embarrassment
Numbness to life
Detachment from others
Anger toward those who have caused this pain
Insomnia or nightmares
Flashbacks of traumatic events
Shaking or trembling
What Does It Mean to Recover from Emotional Trauma?
Recovering from emotional trauma is about healing your body, mind and spirit so that YOU feel happy again. It’s about learning how to live without fear because everyone deserves happiness!
In order to start your journey toward recovery, you need to understand that healing from emotional trauma is not a linear process. It’s not a destination.
It’s something you have to keep working on throughout your lifetime.
15 Ways to Recover from Emotional Trauma
There is no quick fix for recovering from emotional trauma, but we can break healing down into four main areas: 1) acknowledging what happened; 2) learning to cope with symptoms; 3) working through feelings about what happened; 4) looking at how the experience has changed your life perspective in ways that might be helpful.
Here are 15 ways to recover from emotional trauma that will help you succeed in these four main areas.
1. Give Yourself Credit for Surviving
What you’re feeling is totally normal, and that’s OK. You’ve survived a traumatic event. Give yourself credit for that fact. And then give yourself credit for being you: your quirks and all. Even though this might sound silly, I recommend writing down everything good about your personality (if there’s anything) on a piece of paper and carrying it around with you in your wallet or bag. This will remind you of the good things about yourself when life gets hard. And trust me, it will get hard again at some point!
2. Tap Into Your Creative Side
Creativity is a wonderful tool for coping with trauma. Creativity can be used to express your emotions, to help rebuild meaning in your life, and to find new meaning in the world around you. This can be as simple as sketching your feelings, writing poems or songs about what happened, painting a mural on the wall of your room if it’s safe to do so and if you have paint supplies available, making collages out of magazine cutouts …the possibilities are endless!
If you’ve been dealing with emotional trauma, small wins can be hard to celebrate. But it’s important that you do so, because celebration is what helps us move forward. Give yourself permission for these accomplishments; don’t feel guilty for giving yourself credit for them.
A celebration can be as simple as taking a walk with a loved one or enjoying a meal with friends. Celebrations can also be an opportunity to reconnect with the outside world, which can help you feel less isolated in your recovery process and even remind you that there are many things worth living for besides trauma recovery.
4. Meditation and Yoga
Meditation and yoga are both activities that can be used to help you relax and focus your mind on the present. Yoga is an ancient practice of physical postures combined with breathing exercises to help calm the body and mind. I often described meditation as a way of slowing down your thoughts, so that you can be more aware of what’s happening around you.
Self-care is not selfish. In fact, it’s the opposite of being selfish. It’s an important part of emotional health, and it can help you recover from traumatic events in your life. Taking care of yourself isn’t just something that should be done if you have time or energy—it’s something that needs to be prioritized if you want to live a healthy life with minimal stress and anxiety.
Self-care doesn’t have to cost money or take up much time at all; it could mean taking a bath or going for a walk around the block if that’s all you need right now! There are some great recommendations in my articles 9 Types of Self-Care and Lifesaving Self-Care Subscriptions!
6. Take Small Steps and Reward Yourself When You Achieve Them
When you feel calm enough to do so, start by setting small goals for yourself. You might have trouble envisioning the future and getting started, but starting small is a great way to build up your confidence in your ability to accomplish things.
Once you’ve achieved a goal, reward yourself with something tangible or even symbolic. If it’s easier for you to visualize rewards as physical objects, that works too. Just make sure they’re attainable and sustainable, okay Mama! Learn about setting S.M.A.R.T goals in my article All About Mental Health Goals!
7. Establish a Routine
Establishing a routine is one of the most important steps in recovery from trauma. Establishing a routine can help you feel more grounded and in control. It can also help you feel less stressed, more focused, productive, and less anxious or depressed. Establishing a routine is something that will take time and effort, but it’s something that will benefit you long-term.
8. Stay Away from Drugs and Alcohol
One of the best ways you can recover from emotional trauma is to stay away from alcohol and other drugs. While some people turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to help them forget about their problems, these substances will actually make you feel even more depressed than before.
9. Set Mental Health Goals
When you’re recovering from emotional trauma, setting goals can help you stay focused on what’s important. First, make sure that your goal is realistic. If your goal is too ambitious or too easy, it may not be very motivating.
Second, make sure your goal isn’t vague or short term in nature (i.e., “I will be happy next week”). If it’s long term and vague (“My life will be perfect someday”), then you’re not giving yourself much to look forward to in the meantime.
Exercise is a powerful tool for helping you deal with trauma. It can help you sleep better and feel less stressed, but it also provides an outlet to release your emotions. Exercise has been shown to improve mood, energy levels, and confidence in people who have experienced trauma.
Additionally, exercise releases endorphins which make us feel good. This can be especially helpful when trying to move past difficult feelings or memories that might be holding you back from feeling happy or relaxed.
11. Get Professional Help
If you’re facing serious emotional trauma, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. A trained therapist can help you cope with the trauma, understand what happened and move on from it.
In fact, research suggests that therapy is more effective at treating PTSD than medication alone. If you feel like your mental health is suffering because of a traumatic event or situation, consider talking to a therapist who specializes in trauma recovery and treatment. I recommend:
Online Therapy – It’s so much more than live sessions and messaging. It’s a complete happiness toolbox. Get matched with a qualified therapist within a minute.
MyWellbeing – MyWellbeing connects clients with the therapist right for them, ensuring that people of all backgrounds can get the mental health care they need.
TalkSpace – Talkspace offers affordable, confidential therapy with a professional licensed therapist, anytime and anyplace, through a mobile device or on the web.
Calmerry – Calmerry is a secure e-counseling platform that makes therapy accessible and affordable to anyone. They connect clients with fully-licensed, thoroughly vetted therapists who draw on evidence-based approaches.
Talk about your feelings and experiences with those who are closest to you: family members, friends, significant others and even coworkers. The people in our lives have a great impact on our emotions; sometimes just talking about difficult experiences can help ease some of the tension that may be preventing us from moving forward in life.
13. Face the Trauma in Your Safe Space
In the midst of your trauma, it’s important to find a safe space. This may be an outside location or an internal space that you create. The key is that it’s somewhere you can go when you feel like your mental health needs tending to.
It can be anything from sitting on a park bench to meditating in your bedroom or creating a special corner in your closet as a retreat.
It’s also important that this space feels like home—that is, comfortable and familiar—because it will serve as a place where you go for comfort during times of distress.
Joining a support group is an excellent way to help you with the recovery process. When you’re going through something traumatic, it can be helpful to talk about what you’re going through with someone who knows exactly what that feels like. Support groups offer this and more; they also provide education on how to cope with your emotions in healthy ways, and build connections between members that can last for years.
15. Start Journaling and Emotional Self-Care Workbooks
Once you’ve identified the root cause of your trauma, it’s time to take control of your emotions again. A great way to do this is by journaling or working through an emotional self-care workbook.
There are lots of benefits that come with these activities. These include clearing your mind, getting things off your chest and organizing your thoughts into something tangible. I recommend The No Worries Workbook and Green Tree (202 Pages).
Final Thoughts on How to Recover from Emotional Trauma
Be kind to yourself and take time to heal. It’s important to remember that healing from trauma is a process, not an instant fix. Even if you feel as though you are doing everything right, it may still take some time before things feel better again. Give yourself permission to go at your own pace and accept that it will a challenge, but it is normal!
If you’re experiencing emotional trauma, adjusting to post-traumatic stress, or simply wanting more information about what is going on with you, know that there are many ways to cope and recover. I hope my FREE Emotional Trauma Quiz will help you gain some clarity.
At the very least, this article has hopefully given you a starting place from which to explore your feelings and learn how best to manage them.
Seeking out therapy might be one of the best decisions you ever make. If you prefer to keep your recovery process private, then we also have some extra tips for taking care of yourself during this crucial period in our article, The 5 Stages of Trauma Recovery. Which includes our FREE Printable – Trauma Recovery Checklist.
Are you using any of my tips for recovering from emotional trauma? Let me know in the comments below!
Have you picked out your self-care journal, workbooks, or weighted blankets or plushies? Let me know in the comments below!