Trauma and abuse are unfortunately common events. For today’s post, I decided to share some wisdom that I have acquired over the years. I myself am still healing, and it may take me many years to fully heal, but these techniques have helped me. I’ll admit that I wrote this post specifically for a friend of mine who is going through difficult times right now, but these techniques may prove useful for you as well. Many people faced with trauma either become addicts (which doesn’t solve the problem, and only creates another one) while others become violent. There are, however, healthy ways to heal from trauma and abuse:
In lieu of a picture, for comedic purposes, I decided to link this funny meditation video: (contains NSFW language, just a heads up)
When I first started seeing a therapist, she taught me a breathing/meditation exercise that I now practice for five minutes every day. Here’s what you do: set an alarm for five minutes. Put your hand or arm over your abdomen. For those five minutes, breathe with your diaphragm, rather than with your chest. If you feel your stomach swelling with each breath, you’re doing it right. As you inhale, count to five. As you exhale, count to eight. Try to focus on your breathing and counting. Inevitably, other thoughts will come into your head. When you see that happening, remind yourself to focus on your breathing, but DON’T restart the countdown. Another thing you should know: some peoples’ eyes tear up when they meditate. Do not be alarmed. This is most likely your body getting rid of stress hormones, like cortisol, which is a good thing. I always feel refreshed after a meditation session.
Pets are the best companions. They love you no matter what, and they don’t judge. Some animals are even trained specifically for use in therapy. However, please remember that animals are living things that need time and care. Before you get a pet, do your research on different types of animals. Some animals are higher maintenance than others. As for me, I have an adorable rabbit named Hippie who always seems to know when I’m unhappy. She lets me know she’s there for me by sitting by my side, snuggling me and giving me “bunny kisses.”
Get out there and go to places that are fun.
They say travel broadens oneself. Even if you don’t have the money to fly Transatlantic or take a cruise to the Caribbean, there are still affordable things you can do, such as joining a club where you can meet people with a similar interest. Do you enjoy going to amusement parks? What about a cross-country road trip? Are there any movies out that you want to see? It’ll feel good just to treat yourself to one trip to the mall or to a local flea market. Volunteering or donating to charity can help you feel better about yourself. There is likely at least one park or hiking trail through which you can take a walk and look at nature. You may feel like isolating yourself, but you should surround yourself with good people. Look online and you may find local festivals in your area, such as the 2016 Waterfest at Scotland Run Park in Clayton, NJ: http://events.funnewjersey.com/en/events/56e98352bd460/water-fest
This one doesn’t need much of an explanation. Art, cooking, writing, comedy, music, or perhaps even game-design are excellent outlets for stress. Similarly, you could try…
Adult coloring books are all the rage right now, in part due to the therapeutic effects of coloring. These include mandalas, inspirational quotes, animals, or my personal favorite, which is pictured above: swearing coloring books.
It can be nice just to be able to vent to someone, and you’ll probably get good advice–much better advice than you’ll get simply from reading some random person’s blog post.
Take care of yourself.
Your physical and psychological well-being are tightly wound. If you take care of yourself physically, you’ll probably feel better mentally. It could be tempting to reach for a cookie when you’re stressed, but eating a healthy diet may help you with anxiety or depression. Exercise is a proven way to help ease depression. When you exercise, your brain releases dopamine and endorphins. Chances are that when you think of exercise, you think of a long and gruelling run, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Find a sport that you enjoy, like dancing, rock climbing, martial arts, or even just hiking. Taking care of yourself is also a great way to let yourself know that “you matter.” Oftentimes, we become martyrs and spend so much time helping others that we neglect to take care of ourselves, and we forget that we too matter.
Smile and say nice things to yourself.
It may sound corny, but if you smile at yourself in a mirror, that can make you feel better. Let me ask you a question: how often do you say mean things to yourself, things like “I’m worthless, stupid, ugly, etc.?” Now, how often do you say such mean things to other people, like friends? Remember that you too are a person deserving respect. List all of your positive attributes. Write a nice letter to yourself. Another technique you could try is to write down all of the negative things you constantly think about yourself, then crumble the paper, tear it, throw it away, or simply burn it. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, change it and say something positive instead. For example, if you start thinking, “I’m ugly and stupid,” think, “I’m kind, wise, and my beauty shines in a unique way.”
Don’t race it.
Healing takes years, and there will be times when you relapse. When you do, remind yourself that it’s part of the healing process. Don’t rush it, and don’t compare your progress to that of someone else. Praise yourself for even the littlest progress that you make. Think of your healing as a journey rather than a destination.