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Jonah Engler-Importance of Self-Care for Survivors of Trauma

Contrary to popular belief, people can temporarily talk or think their ways out of trauma. Of course, talking yourself out of traumatic feelings isn’t the same as resolving them. Unresolved trauma will always cause pain in your life, by Jonah Engler.

According to life coach Jonah Engler, unless survivors of trauma accept themselves and their unique experiences, they can’t resolve their trauma. Plus, the longer you leave trauma unresolved, the more problems it will cause.

  • Years of unresolved trauma can completely change you as a person. It can change your perspective on certain topics. It can make you feel constant fear in certain situations. Over time, your trauma may change the way you operate, think, and behave.
  • Even worse, victims of trauma often treat themselves poorly without even realizing why they’re doing it. Trauma accumulates. The more you don’t heal your trauma, the worse it becomes.

Thankfully, resolving trauma isn’t impossible. With proper self-care, any survivor of traumatic experiences can re-discover his/her passion for life and reignite their sense of self. Here’s why self-care is so vital for trauma survivors.

Self-Care: The First Step to Understanding Your Trauma

There’s a very common misconception about trauma survivors. People think they act abnormally in normal circumstances. That’s incorrect. The minds of trauma survivors always act in their best interests. The emotional reactions these people have are completely normal, given their history of traumatic experiences. 

For example, let’s say you were embarrassed in front of your class when you were ten years old. This traumatic experience shapes the way you feel in crowds and other public settings. You grow up to be introverted and shy. Whenever you’re in a crowd, you feel anxious. 

Now, tell me, is this anxiety abnormal? Or is your mind trying to protect you from a similar experience that traumatized you as a child? The latter is true. Emotional responses rooted in trauma are not illogical. They’re logical. 

Over time, our minds adopt different characteristics based on the things we experience. If one childhood event causes extreme trauma, the mind will automatically adjust itself to be hyper-aware in similar situations. Here are some common trauma responses –

  • Heightened anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling of helplessness
  • Feeling of detachment
  • Distressing flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • The feeling of isolation from others
  • Hypervigilance (being hyper-aware, always scanning the environment for potential threats)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Hyperactivity
  • Insomnia

Most trauma victims have experienced these emotions/feelings before. The first step to resolving the way your mind responds to these emotions is understanding these emotions. According to Jonah Engler, that starts with self-care. 

  • The underlying principle of all self-care practices is that you must learn how your mind and bodywork. Trauma victims must stop feeling bad for having the feelings they have. They need to realize that it’s how their minds evolved. 
  • If they separate their minds from their emotions, they’ll come to this conclusion rather quickly. Meditation is an easy way for trauma survivors to come to this important conclusion. When you meditate, your mind focuses on the present. 
  • Your sense of awareness realizes that your mind is just another part of you. Just like you can exercise your biceps and make them stronger, you can exercise your mind to make it sharper. 

Once you’re aware of how your mind operates, dealing with traumatic responses to external stimuli will become much easier. Here are some self-care practices that will set you off on this journey –

Reminding Yourself

Notice how your mind operates; how it creates different types of responses to different types of situations. In case it activates feelings of trauma, reminds yourself that it’s something your mind does. 

Don’t get overpowered by those feelings. Instead, recognize them as they come. You’ll soon realize that you don’t have to do what your mind tells you to do. Your mind will respond to external stimuli within seconds. 

It’s your job to understand these responses and make sure they don’t direct your behaviors.

Rest and Exercise

People with traumatic backgrounds often suffer from fatigue. That’s because their minds are constantly active. They’re constantly thinking of negative emotions that bring them back to their traumatic experiences. If they’re not thinking about trauma, they’re thinking of something that temporarily gets rid of their traumatic thoughts. 

Either way – having such endless thought loops in your head can be extremely tiring. Even if you’re laying down in bed, an overworked mind will make you feel fatigued. Timely rest is the best way of breaking down this cycle of negative emotions and mental hyperactivity. 

  • The more negative emotions you experience, the more mental gymnastics your mind will play. Shut it all off. Get plenty of rest after every trauma-inducing experience. Give your body the energy it needs for similar events in the future. 
  • If you can’t sleep, engage in physical activities. Walking, jogging or gymming are not easy tasks. Your mind needs to be super-focused in order for you to achieve these tasks. Engaging in physical activities will draw your mind away from your traumatic thoughts. 
  • In addition to exercising, trauma victims should also consider practicing relaxation techniques like mindfulness, controlled breathing, etc.

Social Interactions

When we share our happiness, it multiplies. When we share our sadness, it gets divided. That’s why having regular social interactions is a key part of healing for trauma victims. 

  • Ideally, trauma victims should speak their minds and hearts with licensed mental health professionals. These professionals can navigate the conversations in a way that helps trauma victims understand their potentially harmful thought patterns. 
  • If you can’t afford professional therapy, find friends/family members who are willing to listen. Create a support network with the help of these people. Use their support whenever you feel down.
  • Spend time talking to these people, even if you don’t feel like talking. Observe how your mind operates when you’re not alone compared to when you have no one to talk to. 
  • If you’re uncomfortable sharing private details with friends/family, consider calling a crisis line. You can even visit a crisis center to contact other victims of trauma.

Concentrate on taking care of yourself. Do things that nurture your mind and body. These steps will accelerate your trauma healing process.

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