Trauma is a very commonly experienced thing, but also a chronically misunderstood one. Everyone has some degree of trauma in their lives, and you cannot dig into anyone’s past without finding evidence of at least some of it. Of course, it can however crop up in different ways and to different degrees, which is something that can affect the way in which it is experienced. But there is no doubt that it is a hugely important thing that we all need to be aware of.
If you are currently experiencing trauma after an incident in your life, there are many steps that you might want to consider taking in order to get through it. It can take time and you might find you need a lot of help, but on the whole it’s the kind of thing that you can certainly learn more about. Let’s look into this right now.
What Is Trauma?
It might be helpful to actually discuss what trauma is, because as we have mentioned already, there is a great deal of confusion around this. For many, trauma is something that can be very serious, and for other people it might seem trivial. The truth is that it can feel like both, and there is no right or wrong here. What’s important is that you can understand it fully and that you are therefore able to work through it more effectively overall.
So, what is trauma? It is a natural response that the body and mind go through as a result of experiencing something particularly overwhelming or stressful. There is pretty much no limit to the number of situations which can cause this kind of response. It could be anything from a car accident to being the victim of abuse, or simply a loved one passing away. It can be short-term or it can be chronic. There is no right and wrong here.
The important thing is that you recognise trauma when it is happening for you – and that can be a lot more difficult than you might think. Often, we don’t actually know that we are experiencing trauma until much later on, so we might not even think to seek some help or advice, or try to do anything about it.
That’s why it’s so important to try and gain an understanding of trauma as soon as possible, so you can have a better chance of knowing when you are experiencing it in the future – and you are more likely to get the help you need.
So how can you actually recognise trauma when it is happening for you? As we have said, it can be hard when you are in the midst of it, but it’s something that certainly can be learned, so that is well worth bearing in mind here. Typically, trauma is characterized by some common signs, so getting to know those is a big part of being able to spot trauma when it arises. What are those signs, then, and how can you recognise them better?
Trauma is very often likely to be experienced as fear, which can be sometimes quite intense. It can also lead to severe anxiety, in both acute and chronic phases, and to a sense of dread or worry. You might feel helpless, as though nothing is going to go right and life is not worth living. This is at the more extreme end of trauma response, but it is perfectly possible and actually quite common, unfortunately.
Trauma can also often involve a feeling of being alert – which is usually because your body and mind are trying to look out for a new cause of something going wrong. So if you are feeling that seemingly out of nowhere, it might be that you are having a trauma response to a particular situation or stimulus. You might on the other hand just feel tired and fatigued, as well. As you are starting to see, trauma can look like many different things.
If you tend to have these at other times, a traumatic event might cause you to have unwanted thoughts or images, which might be related to the event itself, but not necessarily. You could also have nightmares and flashbacks, and you might have a need to avoid certain places, people and events, because they perhaps remind you of the event in particular. And another very common response to trauma is to be extremely angry – a perfectly acceptable response!
As you can see, the effects of trauma can be wide-reaching and diverse, so it’s no wonder that people are keen to avoid it if at all possible. But if you do have trauma in your life after an incident, you might be wondering what you can do to avoid it more effectively and to manage it. Let’s look into that now.
The issue of managing trauma is a tricky one, because it’s not quite the same for everyone and there are a lot of things that you might need to bear in mind if you are going to do it right. However, that being said, there are also some particular tried and tested things you can do which should help most people experiencing trauma. Being aware of those and starting to put them into practice could mean that you have a much better ability to work through your trauma and continue living your life as fully as possible – which is what most of us would want in such a situation.
So the next sections of this article will all focus on some of the things you can do to manage and work through your trauma more effectively and successfully. These are all likely to help in one way or another, whether immediately or more in a long-term way.
Share Your Feelings
One of the most effective things you can do here is to share your feelings with someone that you feel comfortable doing so with. That can be a close friend or a relative you trust a lot. Whoever it is, there is something magical about simply saying out loud what you are going through and experiencing, and in particular with a focus on what you are feeling. When you share your feelings in this way, it tends to mean that you actually start to process them and feel them more, and you may already know that this is a vital first step towards healing from those emotions. So talking out loud is hugely powerful, and something that you may want to try out as soon as possible. It could be the best thing you do for yourself here.
A lot of people who have trauma will find that going through some therapy can be enormously helpful too. Whether or not you’ve tried this before, it is something that you might want to think about. Just as talking to family can help, so can spending some time with a therapist who really knows what they are doing and who has a strong understanding of trauma and how it works. Evidence-based trauma therapy strategies for survivors can be some of the most useful tools you are ever given, and it’s amazing how much they can help you overcome the trauma in the long term.
Spend Time Doing Things You Enjoy
Although this can sometimes sound trivial, it is actually perfectly true that spending time on things you really enjoy is often the best approach to overcoming your trauma more effectively. It’s quite amazing how well this can work, and it’s the kind of thing that you should try to do more of as soon as you feel ready. Don’t rush into doing loads of activities – that is not really the way – but do make sure that you give yourself the chance to do some of your favorite things as soon as you feel able. That can help you out hugely.
Get Into Your Everyday Routines
A lot of survivors find that their daily routines and habits help a lot, too. Just the act of building up a habit for something relatively simple and normal can help you to feel so much more capable of managing your trauma, and that is something that you should definitely try to remember when you are trying to heal yourself. If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed by things, just try and hone in a lot more and look at the smaller details of your day to day life. It’s amazing what a difference that simple thing can make, after all, and you will find that you can get back to yourself so much more fully and easily if you do this right.
Those are just the main things you might want to know when it comes to trauma, and managing it effectively. Remember that the road can be long, and you might find it takes you time to really overcome it, but that’s okay because in the end you will be able to beat it.