Trauma recovery

Trauma disrupts the body’s natural equilibrium. The person that suffered a traumatic event gets stuck in a state of hyper-arousal and fear. Mainly, their nervous system gets stuck. What most professionals suggest is exercise and movement because these 2 actually help with the release of endorphin as well as ‘burning off’ adrenaline which can help the nervous system get unstuck.

The first step is to exercise for at least 10-30 minutes a day. These exercises should involve both arms and legs movements like swimming, running, walking, even dancing. People are encouraged to focus not on their thoughts or trying to get distracted but to focus on their bodies and how it feels as they move. The purpose of this is to be present in the moment and focus on what’s going on with the body and the sensations you get while doing different exercises.

Following a trauma, people generally tend to isolate and withdraw from others which only makes things worse. Interacting with others doesn’t mean you have to talk about the trauma. However, connecting with others helps the person feel comforted and accepted by others around them.  Also, asking for support is very important. While you don’t have to talk about the trauma, you need to be able to share your feelings and thoughts with someone that you trust without feeling judged. This person could be a member of the family, close friend, counsellor or clergyman.

An important aspect of recovery is learning to self-regulate the nervous system. This self-regulation starts with the physical exercises but needs to continue with mindful breathing. This type of exercise helps the person focus on their breath and calms down the body. You can do that by simply taking 60 breaths, focusing your attention on each breath.

  • Be aware of what you feel and allow yourself to feel it. Acknowledge your feelings about the trauma as they arise, and accept them.
  • Taking care of your health increases the ability to cope with the stress that came from a trauma. Generally, even sleep patterns are disrupted after a traumatic event. A lack of sleep can escalate trauma symptoms and make it harder to maintain an emotional balance. So aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Reducing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation, mindful breathing.
  • Professional help: recovering from trauma takes time and each person should do that at their own pace. If symptoms get worse over time, the person needs to seek advice from a trauma expert.

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