6 Meaningful Life Changes You Can Make To Help Yourself Heal From Trauma
Healing from trauma doesn’t happen in one session — or 10 — on a therapist’s couch. It requires a multifaceted approach, including a nurturing environment and ample self-care. The longer-lasting and more complex the horrors experienced, the more complicated the recovery path can be.
However, there’s a lot you can do to assist in your recovery. By making meaningful life changes that benefit your mental and physical health, you can expedite your healing journey. While you can’t put a timeline on recovering from complex trauma, the following lifestyle choices can accelerate your path to feeling better more quickly.
1) Nurture Your Physical Self
Trauma injures both the body and the mind, so it follows that holistic techniques that benefit both will bring you relief. Please keep in mind that these healing modalities do not transform you overnight. There is no magic pill or beverage to heal despair, so resist the urge to give up after one or two attempts.
One way to speed your trauma recovery is to fuel your body with the right blend of nutrients. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), one 2008 study showed that magnesium works as effectively as the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine in treating major depressive disorder.
Unfortunately, modern food processing techniques remove most of this vital mineral from grains, a primary source, and many Americans consume tons of refined flour. One way to hasten recovery is to seek whole-grain foods and eat more nuts and seeds, which also rank high in this nutrient. Dehydration and insufficient food intake can also affect your mood by causing headaches and other physical symptoms that impact your mental state. Make sure to drink plenty of water and consume sufficient calories daily. Some medications can affect your appetite, and if you find it challenging to eat enough or stop eating when full, talk to your doctor.
2) Connect with Others
Traumatic events can lead to feelings of distrust, anxiety, and depression, any of which can spur you to isolate yourself from others. Unfortunately, this behavior can cause other people to start avoiding you, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. If your friends repeatedly ask you to hang out and you reply with a vague, “I have stuff to do,” they’ll eventually pare back the invitations.
Make an effort to socialize by accepting invitations to company happy hours. Consider joining social groups outside of work, too. You could join a book club if you enjoy reading or connect with a weekend biking group if you enjoy active recreation. You might likewise resist picking up the phone when people check on you. Reply to texts from friends, and if you are in crisis, identify a safe person with whom to touch base. It’s OK to explain you are battling mental health issues, and you would appreciate them helping you maintain contact.
3) Develop Positive Hobbies
If your job leaves you feeling hollow, you might have little choice but to punch in until you find something you enjoy. However, if your life consists of nothing but wake up, work, repeat, you could hinder your recovery. You need something to look forward to if you want a spring in your step when you awaken. Develop healthy, positive hobbies. If you enjoy physical activities, you might gravitate to hiking or yoga. If you are more laid-back, perhaps gardening or reading will excite you. It becomes more manageable to make it through a seemingly endless shift without dwelling on your problems if you can focus on turning the pages in a new chapter or puttering among the peonies.
4) Spend Time in Nature
Nature marries the mental health benefits of movement with the calming properties of gazing at a flower or breathtaking landscape. Try to get outdoors. This advice goes double if you have seasonal affective disorder, and you find trauma recovery more frustrating during the winter. Break up your workday by stepping outside and letting the sun warm your skin.
5) Embrace Mind-Body Practices
Mind-body practices can aid in trauma recovery by building awareness of how your emotions result in physiological changes. When you experience a traumatic event, it causes significant hardship and impairment in the present, even if it happened a month or more ago. Mindfulness meditation helps you begin to untangle the puzzle of why you feel and act the way you do.
You can take advantage of these practices even if you can’t afford to attend classes — or if studios remain closed due to COVID-19. You can find free yoga and guided meditation videos on YouTube or Sivana East to start your journey.
6) End the Therapy Stigma
Many people shy away from seeking therapy even today because of the stigma. Despite widespread awareness, you might remain convinced that seeking help means you’re crazy, although it’s a sign of strength. How can you find a therapist? You can talk to others in support groups for people recovering from similar experiences. You can also consult with your primary care doctor for a referral. Remind yourself that you are doing yourself a service. Recovering from psychological trauma deserves as much professional care as a defective heart requires the intervention of an experienced surgeon.
Heal Yourself from Trauma by Making Positive Life Changes
Healing from psychological trauma takes time — you can’t expect to achieve wellness overnight any more than you could expect a broken leg to mend so quickly. However, following a few tips can speed your recovery process.
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