Managing Trauma

Introduction

Trauma can have a profound impact on our lives, affecting our emotions, thoughts, and overall well-being. This module aims to empower you with coping strategies that can help you regain a sense of control and resilience in the face of trauma.

It is important to note that coping strategies are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each individual’s experience with trauma is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. While the strategies discussed here have proven to be helpful for many, it is crucial to acknowledge that seeking professional help, such as therapy, is often essential to complement and enhance these coping mechanisms.

Please approach this module with self-compassion and patience. Healing from trauma is a process that takes time, and it is normal to encounter setbacks along the way. Remember that utilizing coping strategies is not a substitute for professional therapy but can serve as a valuable complement to your journey towards recovery. Be kind to yourself as you explore these strategies and adapt them to suit your unique needs.

Grounding Exercises

Grounding strategies are invaluable tools for managing trauma symptoms and regaining a sense of safety and stability. These strategies work by redirecting your focus away from distressing thoughts or sensations associated with trauma and bringing it to the present, tangible environment. By engaging your senses and actively connecting with the physical world around you, grounding techniques help to ground you in the “here and now,” creating a sense of stability and control.

Relaxation Exercises

Relaxation exercises are valuable for trauma recovery as they help regulate the body’s stress response, fostering a sense of safety and calm. By activating the relaxation response these exercises reduce hyperarousal symptoms, such as heightened anxiety and muscle tension. They promote emotional regulation by providing individuals with tools to manage intense emotions and establish inner calm. Relaxation exercises also restore the mind-body connection, addressing dissociation and increasing awareness of bodily sensations. They serve as effective coping strategies during triggering moments and contribute to a renewed sense of safety and trust.

Regular Exercise

Exercise is a powerful tool for managing heightened emotions as it releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. 

Exercise learns you how to be in touch with your body. This can be particularly important for people who are experiencing traumatic flashbacks. Being able to make the distinction between how your body felt during the traumatic event and now is an effective way to pull yourself out of the flashback and back into the present. 

Now and Then

The “Now and Then” technique (Stimulus Discrimination) is a valuable exercise in trauma therapy that helps you recognize and differentiate between triggers associated with traumatic memories. Traumatic experiences can be easily activated by various stimuli in our surroundings or physical sensations within our bodies. It is normal that we aren’t always aware of these triggers and how they are linked to our traumatic event. This exercise aims to increase your awareness of these triggers and empower you to distinguish between past trauma and present reality.

Seek professional Help

The above techniques have been proven to work for a range of different people. It can however be the case that you find it hard to implement them in your life or your difficulties feel to intense to make a start on these by yourself. 

Seeking professional help can support you in  normalising and validating your trauma reactions, create a safe space to explore and process your traumatic event(s) and find the best ways to manage your symptoms. 

The recommended evidence based treatments for PTSD are CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing). When looking for a therapist, it is important to see if they are able to offer these.

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