Life is a roller coaster ride. With each trivial turn, we come across fleeting feelings such as suffering, agony, and happiness. Emotional trauma is one such agonizing turn. We feel like it’s the end of our world, but it is not. Once we know how to recover from emotional trauma, we can speed up the healing process.
1. What is Trauma?
Trauma is the response to highly stressful events causing emotional distress. Trauma describes your emotional response to an experience that makes you feel threatened, afraid, and powerless.
Trauma has three main types:
- Acute Trauma: results from experiencing a single stressful incident (sudden loss, car accident, witnessing horrific event).
- Chronic Trauma: results from experiencing continuous stressful events for a long time (bullying, long-term illness)
- Complex Trauma: multiple traumatic events may result in complex trauma (domestic violence).
Trauma can be verbal, sexual, physical, and emotional. In this article, we will talk about emotional trauma and how one can recover from emotional trauma.
2. Emotional Trauma
According to LeBlanc, “Emotional trauma can result from any type of traumatic experience that causes overwhelming amounts of stress that exceed one’s ability to cope and integrate the emotions involved.”
Emotional trauma is also referred to as psychological trauma, where a person, after being affected by a distressing incident, experiences helplessness and is not able to cope and function normally after the event.
3. Signs and Symptoms of an Emotional Trauma
Trauma symptoms may last for months to years and gradually fade as you process the event and thoughts. It does not mean that you will not revisit your past experiences, although you won’t be as bothered as before by those memories.
Recovery from emotional trauma is possible, but only when you make up your mind. Processing the emotions in your journey can be the start. Remember, healing comes from the inside.
3.1 Signs and Symptoms of Emotional Trauma
- When a person finds themselves helpless in day-to-day life, it means there is no significant situation that a person cannot handle, but still, they are feeling helpless and sad.
- Because of your emotional trauma, you start to stress a lot, and your stress becomes anxiety in no time. You start to worry about small things.
- Disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or popularly known as PTSD.
- When a person has digestive problems without any dietary defect, it can be a symptom of emotional trauma.
- When a person is suffering from depression or having suicidal or self-harm thoughts, it can be a symptom of emotional trauma.
- One of the common symptoms of emotional trauma is a sleeping disorder. A person having trouble sleeping and waking up at night might have emotional trauma.
4. What are the Reasons for Psychological and Emotional Trauma
Any extremely threatening event that a person finds emotionally exhausting often leaves them with deteriorating mental health. Here are some situations that can trigger psychological and emotional trauma in a person.
4.1 The Breakup of a Significant Relationship
Breakups can trigger severe emotional and physical distress. You may feel worthless, depressed, lose or gain weight, disturbed sleeping patterns, and have suicidal thoughts. Because the one you’ve lost had significant influence over your life, their leaving brings many changes in your life.
When you’ve spent so many years with a person, shared a bond, and shared love with them, It’s hard to move on. When thoughts of that person and the incidents that triggered the breakup come to your mind, you are unable to stand them. And that traumatizes you emotionally and psychologically.
4.2 Physical Violence and Drug Abuse
Victims and survivors of domestic violence and drug abuse have a high chance of going through emotional and psychological trauma. For these victims, the effects of trauma are so severe and often leave them unable to communicate and move.
Drug rehabilitation centers guide drug abusers through steps on how to recover from emotional trauma.
4.3 Sexual Assault
Rape victims have almost three times more chances than others to suffer from depression. For people who suffered any sexual abuse or substance abuse, be it rape or anything other, the memory of the particular situation and the disgust never leave their brains. It keeps coming back to them. The thoughts of that situation and fear of that kind of assault push them into anxiety and depression.
The effect of that kind of psychological trauma remains throughout life, and healing becomes a long and challenging path in such cases. Eventually, they will learn how to recover from emotional trauma with external and internal support.
4.4 A Chronic Illness
Chronic medical illness not only weakens your body but also takes away your ability to do any work. Because of that illness, as your body weakens, your mind weakens too. It starts stressing and overthinking about its present situation and future situations.
In such cases, the disability of the body and uncertainty of the disease makes patients more prone to emotional trauma. How do you recover from emotional trauma in such cases? It can only be done through consistent support from family and friends and sheer willpower.
4.5 Childhood Experiences
The most overlooked form of trauma, which often becomes the ‘root evil’ during our adult life, is childhood experiences. Childhood traumatic experiences include negligence by family, bullying, sexual harassment, and abuse.
In boys, getting bullied by senior kids is the most common reason for childhood trauma, and if we talk about girls, then sexual harassment is the thing that is the prime cause of trauma in most cases.
4.6 Man-Made or Natural Disasters
Losing a loved one in a Man-made or natural disaster like a terrorist attack is often overwhelming, especially when you are the only one left behind. Victims find themselves grief-stricken, anxious, and in depression. !
5. How to Recover from Emotional Trauma?
Traumatic memories can leave you with agonizing thoughts. Recovery from emotional trauma is an individual process that differs for each person. Still, the most common path for recovering from emotional trauma is self-care.
No guideline can tell you how to recover from emotional trauma accurately. Recovery depends on the person’s coping abilities with the traumatizing event, their approach to others, resilience, and the processing of emotions.
It has been proven that loneliness affects one badly. The more you seek isolation, as people going through emotional trauma might do, the more the trauma chases you. As humans are social animals, we tend to feel abandoned and isolated in the absence of social relationships. Thus, it is necessary to be in a social environment to speed up your recovery from emotional trauma.
Communication plays a vital role in recovering from trauma. Spending time with a family member or your friends is one of the easiest ways to overcome traumatic feelings. Effective communication can strengthen relationships and improve your well-being.
Recovery from trauma is not an overnight process. It is a journey through which we learn to live joyfully in the present rather than getting overwhelmed by memories.
In the process of healing from trauma, some people slip into an unhealthy obsession with narcotics, liquor, and other tobacco items. These substances make your body numb, making it easier to run away from your painful feelings rather than face them. If you feel like turning to these obsessions, seek immediate help from a therapist.
You will often find yourself asking how to recover from emotional trauma and the sense of helplessness. Worry not, for here are some methods to help your recovery process.
5.1. Self-Help Methods
These are some activities you can do by yourself to keep your mind and body happy:
Create a Routine
One of the best methods to get over any trauma is having a routine. When you have a routine, you have a flow chart of the day about what you need to do. This way, even if you have any traumatic thoughts, your mind will think about the next task in your routine, eventually killing the stressful thoughts.
When you are under stress or going through anxiety, one of the best ways to reduce its effect is to get proper sleep and have a good sleep schedule. According to studies, a human ideally needs 8 hours of deep sleep.
Take a Walk
Having a morning walk in a garden with breezy air and quietness is significantly helpful to keep your mind at ease. It helps calm your mind and, in that way, reduces stress and anxiety.
Exercise regularly, for around 30 mins per day. Exercising reduces stress hormones and hence can help you in recovering from emotional trauma.
Meditation is one of the best ways to reduce stress, and it is one of the best ways to cure emotional and psychological trauma. Meditation calms your mind, helps you not control your thoughts, and kills your chain of overthinking.
Additionally, meditation and breathwork, natural offshoots of mindfulness, can improve stress levels and help you feel more relaxed and settled in your life.
Take Deep Breaths
Taking deep breaths increases the oxygen supply to our blood and brain, leading to a calm state. So take a few deep breaths every time you find yourself under stress.
Set a Goal
The everyday goal set up makes you think about that one thing only on that day; hence your mind does not have time for other thoughts, leading to a decrease in stressful thoughts. So please set up a new goal every day and try to achieve it.
Try New Things
People suffering from emotional trauma do not indulge themselves in fun activities, but when you try out new things like martial arts, new hobbies like doodling, new passions like writing, or anything, your mind is fascinated by the newness. So it helps with the trauma when you are practicing new things.
If you are feeling anxious and traumatized because of the loneliness, you have to interact and communicate with new people or even with your known ones because that will be the best way to get away from your loneliness.
Listen to Music
There is no denying that music can be an excellent medium to cure anxiety and loneliness and reduce stress. Listen to music when you feel numb and helpless.
There are other activities that are proven therapeutic, such as doing skincare and makeup, taking a calm bath with soothing oils, surrounding yourself with flowers, or petting an animal. You can also go through self-care guides for more information.
5.2. By Keeping a Journal
Another way to recover from your emotional trauma is by journaling. Writing is a form of stress relief. Some people keep a journal and write regularly, while others write when they find it difficult to process something.
Before sleeping, write down everything from what you eat to how you feel and how you deal with your thoughts during the day. Add some bright ideas you had and positive events that occurred.
Whether the traumatic incident occurred years ago or recently, you can always guide others to recover from emotional trauma through your writings.
5.3. With the help of a Professional
Taking medical help or professional help is another way to go. Many people feel safe with a therapist and share their painful memories. They provide a sense of security and guide you to recover from the emotional trauma that made your life unbalanced.
A professional therapist will point out your patterns of revisiting the event and help you break the vicious cycle and regain a sense of safety.
5.4. Applications that Help with Trauma
Many artificial intelligence applications and software are available, which are useful for people who find it hard to trust anybody. You can talk to them and get suggestions on how to recover from emotional trauma and cope with it.
5.5. By Joining a Support Group
In a support group, people who share similar traumas work to help each other toward recovery and healing. Spiritual groups, self-help book recommendation groups, support groups, or communities of trauma survivors are some support groups you can join to get help on how to recover from emotional trauma.
If you are an introvert or do not feel comfortable in social groups, there are many online support groups where you can share your thoughts and feelings without revealing your identity. If that’s the case for you, connecting with a peer support group could be a good option.
6. 5 Reminders on Your Trauma Recovery Journey
One needs to understand this; there is no specific path for your trauma recovery journey. There is no destined roadmap for this journey, but keep these 5 reminders in your mind before you leap into your recovery journey from trauma.
6.1. Recovery in 5 Stages
Recovery never actually happens with a finger snap. It takes time. If you think you recovered soon from your trauma, you might be possibly wrong; your trauma might hit you when you least expected it. So, it is better that you know that recovery takes time and patience.
According to the Extended Transformational Model, recovery happens in 5 stages:
- Pre-trauma Period
These are the traits in your behavior and viewpoints that you hold before the trauma hits you.
- Rumination Period
This is the period when the trauma hits you. At this time, the brain is still figuring out what has happened. In this stage, people often experience a lot of strong feelings and intrusiveness.
- Event Centrality Period
This is a very crucial period and marks the turning period in your life. In this stage, the trauma will define how it has changed your life and moving forward what you plan to do.
- Control Period
During this period, you gradually start taking control of your life and managing your trauma symptoms.
- Mastery Period
In this stage, you can now master the hits of trauma. You adjust better in your post-trauma life. Your coping skills got refined, and trauma might hit you even now, but it does not control your life anymore.
6.2. Do not Compare Your Healing Process
Your healing process will never be similar to anyone. Suppose you are inspired by reading a book where the main character healed in a processed manner, but now if you start comparing his or her healing process to yours, this will cause even more resistance.
You might feel anxious about your recovery period, and you might feel your won recovery period going slow; you might feel overwhelmed by all the chaos, but understand every individual is knitted differently, so better you understand yourself first and have patience.
6.3. Post-traumatic Growth can Happen
You may develop be a stronger individual than before in your post-traumatic period. The trauma may have let you be the best version of yourself, but you have grown stronger despite the trauma.
You might feel gratuitous for the small things in life even more strongly now than before!
6.4. Society will Speak. Always!
‘Just move on!’, ‘Get over it already!’ these are some phrases you will frequently hear while you cope with managing your entire crushed-down human system, which is, of course, not visible to society.
During this time, do not pay heed. Shut all these voices out and know they do not mean anything for your good. This is your battle, and these voices no nothing of it. It is not easy to feel calm, but again, it is a repeated process to remind yourself to do what is best for yourself.
You may spend days lying on your couch, spend days watching sad movies and listening to sad songs. All these are okay, do not let societal judgment interfere with your coping skills. Do what you feel, but remember to feel better with time.
At times, a pleasure to yourself works as a victory! Here self-care takes the leading role.
6.5. Therapy Can Help
Do not feel awkward in taking steps toward professional therapy. Professional therapists can work better to help you cope with your trauma.
It is time to take professional help when these happen:
- The trauma is disturbing your eating and sleeping patterns.
- You are feeling hard to focus on your daily activity.
- Trauma is affecting your mood and your mindset.
- Trauma is creating problems in your domestic and professional life.
- Trauma is affecting your relationship.
7. Key Takeaways
Your feelings are valid; acknowledging them is the first step in any guide to recovering from emotional trauma.
Nobody can teach you how to recover from emotional trauma; it all rests on your choices. You need to make up your mind and start the journey toward healing. It may be as simple as writing down your thoughts, engaging in a new activity, or simply opening up to someone.
This article, ‘How to Recover from Emotional Trauma,’ is only a guide for you which you can take reference from. Hope this truly helps.
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8.1 How Do I Get Out of My Emotional Trauma?
Ans. Getting out of emotional trauma is not easy. You can do the following:
- Lawn on your loved ones. Know who is your real friend, or take the help of your family member. Spend time with him or her. You can take out your heaviness in front of them. Or, you can simply be with them and enjoy their presence.
- Face what you feel. Do not run away from your feelings. Meaning does not hide what you actually feel and try to put a smile on your face. This will create a negative effect on your healing process.
- Take care of yourself. This is not just the saying, but do actual self-care like taking yourself for a movie date, sipping coffee with your favorite novel, doing what you love the most, or simply spending days in your bed.
- Be patient with your healing process. Give time to yourself; this ain’t any race, be compassionate to yourself, and you will surely feel better.
8.2 Can Emotional Trauma be Serious?
Ans. Yes, emotional trauma can be serious if it goes untreated. If you ignore your trauma, it might result in indulgence in substance abuse like alcoholism, drugs, etc.
8.3 Where is Trauma Stored in Our Body?
Ans. The experiences of trauma are stored in the somatic memory of our brain.