Understanding Self-Care Practices for Trauma and Trauma Therapy
Here at Brave Minds Psychological Services, we know to better understand how to help get through trauma as trauma therapy is one of our core services. However, we must first understand how we practice self-care. What do you think about when you hear the term “self-care”? Do you picture fuzzy socks, candles, and a good book? Maybe the first thing that comes to mind is eating healthy and exercising. If you are on the journey of healing after trauma, many traditional forms of self-care can feel too difficult to practice or enjoy. Not only may you have a difficult time being able to relax, a relaxed state may feel foreign and even uncomfortable to a trauma survivor.
Do you hear about self-care over and over again?
Despite this, self-care is likely recommended to you over and over by loved ones, other survivors, and mental health professionals. There is a reason for this, as practicing self-compassion and self-love is a crucial aspect of healing after trauma. However, the ability to care for oneself in this way is not simple or easy for trauma survivors. It is hard fought. Even asking for help is a battle but it can be solved with some introspection or through trauma therapy as well. At the same time, unlocking self-care practices can be life-changing in helping you heal from within. The following self-care practices are meant to help you challenge the way that you understand and connect with yourself.
Choose Curiosity over Self-Criticism
Trauma therapy very often works to address self-criticism and self-esteem disturbances in survivors. Outside of the context of the trauma, the parts of yourself that helped you survive have a very hard time letting go of their jobs. The part of yourself that shuts off your emotions may have helped you survive an abusive or otherwise traumatic situation. However, this is not a skill that you can easily “unlearn”. It can interfere with forming close and trusting relationships.
How do we address this trauma response?
The first step in addressing the parts of ourselves that are stuck in survival mode is understanding how they show up in our lives. Practice approaching your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors from a place of curiosity, rather than criticism. Reflect on why you may have reacted the way you did in a certain situation. Curiosity can help us better understand our experiences without judging ourselves or assigning blame.
Honor Your Body’s Reactions
If you are struggling with practicing self-care, it can be helpful to move towards resolving the tumultuous relationship you have with your body. Disconnecting from your body’s requests, demands, and sensations may have been what helped you survive what you experienced. However, once the danger is gone, it is not easy to rebuild a trusting relationship with your body. As a survivor, you may experience your body as a tether to the painful memories you want to leave in your past. Many survivors experience somatic flashbacks, in which they re-experience physical sensations from the traumatic event. Particularly if you are experiencing physical symptoms, trauma can make it difficult to even want to reconnect with your body.
Remember this when healing from trauma
It is important to practice patience with yourself as you rebuild a mutually supportive relationship with your body. That is, you take care of your body and you trust your body to tell you what it needs. This can mean eating when you feel hungry, resting when you feel tired, wearing comfortable clothes, and drinking water. It can also mean learning to listen to your body when it tells you that someone has crossed a boundary.
Creativity with Trauma
The perfectionism that some survivors exhibit after experiencing trauma often gets in the way of creativity. The anxiety and/or disappointment that bubbles up when our creation is not how we expected can cause us to give up on a project. Furthermore, society puts a lot of pressure on art to be digestible, meaningful, and/or even profitable. It can be difficult to enjoy the creative process when we overfocus on the final product.
Tips to take back creativity when healing from trauma
Challenge yourself to embrace imperfection in small ways. Color outside the lines. Cook without a recipe. Much of creativity is about being in the moment. Try creative activities that engage your senses and help keep you grounded. Fingerpainting (touch), cooking (taste, smell), and playing guitar (sound) are just a few examples.
I encourage you to practice patience with yourself on your healing journey. Try not to compare yourself to others. Even if you both tripped, your broken foot may not heal in the same amount of time as another person’s sprained ankle. Also like a physical injury, you may similarly need more rest and self-nurturance during your recovery.
Practicing Loving Kindness and Self Compassion is Key!
Extending compassion and kindness to ourselves after trauma is not an easy ask. It is completely normal to struggle with self-care. Start with practicing gratitude for the parts of yourself that helped you survive. Set small and realistic goals for yourself to help avoid feeling discouraged or defeated. Celebrate any and all progress and avoid over-focusing on setbacks.
Healing from Trauma Takes Time and Talking in Trauma Therapy is a Great Next Step!
The journey to loving and caring for yourself may be a long one. It will take bravery, perseverance, and faith. Remind yourself that you are a survivor. At the same time, allow yourself to accept help from others and consider working with a trauma-informed therapist for extra support via trauma therapy in New Jersey.
Begin Trauma Therapy in Branchburg and Scotch Plains, NJ Today!
Your trauma does not have to define your life. With trauma therapy at Brave Minds Psychological Services. Our trained and caring therapists at our offices in Branchburg and Scotch Plains are waiting to give you the best trauma therapy available. If you’d prefer to meet with a counselor via video session, we also offer online therapy in New Jersey. To begin trauma counseling, follow these easy steps:
- Connect with Brave Minds Psychological Services today for a free 20-minute consultation.
- Get your questions answered by one of our many compassionate trauma therapists.
- Start your healing and free yourself of your past.
Other Services At Brave Minds Psychological Services
At Brave Minds Psychological Services, we offer a variety of services from our licensed therapists to get you on the right path to healing. Our therapeutic services include therapy for children, with a special focus on anxiety treatment for children and child sexual abuse therapy. We have specialists doing therapy for teens, specifically anxiety treatment for teens and teen social phobia therapy. Our adult therapy services include anxiety counseling, couples counseling, counseling for parents, postpartum counseling, OCD therapy, loss and grief counseling, food allergy therapy, and group therapy. Finally, we have specialized trauma therapy and PTSD treatment areas for birth trauma, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and sexual assault counseling for adults,
We also have a blog where we write about a variety of different mental health subjects. If you’re interested in learning more about our mental health services here at Brave Minds Psychological Services, please contact our Scotch Plains and Branchburg counseling offices!