For some people EMDR can be very effective when working with traumatic reactions. It strengthens the positive and calm feelings so important after trauma and weakens the impact of painful emotions and memories. See the demo below to get an idea of what EMDR is like. If interested, find an EMDR practitioner you feel safe with and trust.
Witnessing trauma can be as difficult as experiencing it and can cause trauma symptoms. Witnessing occurs through media reports of traumatic events, community violence, watching a loved one suffer from trauma, and being unable to help someone in danger. The video below talks about how community violence harms youth:
What can you do to take care of yourself when exposed to trauma? Limiting exposure is important, including avoiding replays of traumatic events on TV. Acknowledging the harmful effects of exposure is also important and allows us to use self care to calm and nurture ourselves. Talking to others about our feelings is helpful. Finally, doing something to help those in need can be a way to heal from exposure to trauma.
There is much shame, guilt, and self blame in trauma. To counter this and promote healing, we can introduce acts of self love. By actively loving ourselves or at least going through the motions of loving ourselves even if we do not feel it, we encourage our recovery. When you catch yourself using language of self blame, try to understand yourself instead and change it to language of compassion. Survivors often talk about what they “should” do, for instance, or what they did wrong, calling themselves stupid or inept. When these thoughts come up, try to understand where they come from and replace them with supportive thoughts that highlight your good points and accomplishments. See how it feels to receive acts of love from yourself instead of criticism.
Here is a guided imagery that helps invoke self love: Enjoy!
Trauma can leave survivors feeling alone with intense emotions we do not know how to share with others. We may feel frightened, overwhelmed, helpless, and abandoned.
Finding ways to cope with these feelings and re-connect with the world is key to recovery. Particularly during the holidays when we can feel alone even when with others, it helps to find ways to safely reach out. We can think of ourselves as children or animals with no homes who need parenting and find ways to do for ourselves what we would do for the children and animals – feed them nourishing food, cuddle with them, provide a warm clean environment, introduce them to friends, read to them, play music for them, laugh with them, play with them, and slowly provide a safe enough place for them to open up, smile, and lose that wide eyed guarded lost in the woods with no hope of finding home again look. Creating this kind of safety is the first step toward healing from trauma.
Resilience is key to thriving after trauma and determines both whether Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms (PTSS) occur and how we fare with PTSS. To avoid being a victim and instead thrive, we can use these resilience tips.
- Become aware of and remember our personal strengths, letting them support us when we are stressed (see video below for some tips)
- Build and maintain dependable and safe relationships. Having even one relationship like this is priceless
- Take good care of ourselves on a regular basis, practicing effective coping strategies (see CopingMadeEasy.com for some tips)
- Get professional help if needed
Trauma erodes our basic sense of safety. Prior to trauma we feel we have a certain amount of control over our lives and trust we will be safe without even consciously thinking about it most of the time. When trauma occurs, safety is no longer a given and there is a loss of control that leaves us feeling helpless and often terrified. Here are steps to take to begin the process of healing from trauma:
1. Regain a sense of safety – this requires vigilant self care and coping
2. Connect with safe individuals
3. Maintain a daily routine similar to before the trauma occurred
4. Get professional help if unable to do this on our own