Self-Care Tips for Trauma Survivors

Surviving abuse or trauma presents unique challenges. There’s the emotional storm, with its ups and downs, maybe flashbacks, disturbing memories, the struggle to feel good about yourself, to feel safe.

Nonetheless, you can learn to feel good about yourself and your life.

So I’ve assembled some tips and tools to help trauma and abuse survivors along this healing journey. Anybody can benefit from these tools. But I think they’re particularly important for trauma survivors.

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Sexual Assault - Why They Don't Tell

Only in the last 30 years has childhood sexual abuse received the validation and attention it deserves. Now sexual trauma is in the public eye again, and with it, the discussion of why so few people disclose sexual assault and trauma. This new attention is a good thing because many abuse survivors never reveal what happened to them or get help healing the trauma. I hope this new attention will encourage more sexual abuse survivors to come forward, to get the help they need, to get the beautiful life they so richly deserve.

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Mindfulness to Relieve Anxiety and Stress

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on your experience in the present moment, without judgment – just being with what is. It’s about accepting ourselves, our feelings, our experience, and knowing that we’re okay. It’s easy to believe that just because we’re experiencing difficult feelings – anger, sadness, frustration - that something is wrong and we have to make a change.  But what if it’s alright to feel whatever we feel – pleasant or unpleasant – and we’re still okay, even if it’s uncomfortable?

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Self-Compassion and Kindness for Healing and Motivation

So, here’s the question: If someone you love is struggling with depression, anxiety, falling short of their own expectations, would you offer that person compassion? Might you offer something like, “you’re doing the best you can, it’s ok. I’m here for you.” But what if you're the one who's having a difficult passage. Can you offer yourself the same compassion and kindness you would offer to anyone else? What would that be like?

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Taming the Mind - Improving Self-Esteem

Let’s start by being kind to ourselves, by remembering that we are good people. Perhaps we have been wounded somehow. That is not a referendum on our character or ourselves as human beings. The negative thoughts we have about ourselves are simply the waste byproducts of difficult or traumatic experience. We can train ourselves, train our minds to remember we are good and whole and well, even when we don’t feel that way. We can start by directing our thoughts to our wellness and affirm that we are good people.

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Mindfulness and Healing

Mindfulness is the art of focusing on your experience in the present moment, without judgment — just being with what is. It's about accepting ourselves, our feelings, our experience, and knowing that we're okay. Sure, sometimes our experience is uncomfortable. But it’s possible to be still in the present moment, where everything is generally ok, even when we're uncomfortable. Mindfulness can go a long way in helping to reduce stress and heal our emotional wounds.

 

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Breathe Easy for PTSD and Stress Relief

During a meditation retreat I attended, one of the teachers read a teaching in which the Buddha reminded us to "breathe easy."

It's easy to forget about our breathing. In fact most of us never think about it at all, unless we're having trouble with it. But if you pay attention to your breath, you may be surprised by how much it changes as your state of mind changes. You might also notice that you can change your state of mind by changing the way you breathe.

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Addiction and Grief - Hand-in-Hand - an Opportunity for Healing

Dave had been clean and sober for 17 years when his father died of alcoholism. He’d been through addiction counseling and psychotherapy. He regularly attended meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, stayed in touch with his AA sponsor and diligently took the necessary steps to stay sober. In fact, it had been more than ten years since Dave had felt the urge to drink or use drugs.

Dave's father was a maintenance alcoholic. He lived alone in a one-room apartment with a bed, a chair, a television and his collection of empty bottles. He drank himself to oblivion every day. Eventually, he drank himself to death.

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Codependence and Addiction - Break the Cycle

Are you making sacrifices for someone else’s happiness and not getting much in return? Are you so focused on taking care of other people that you are sacrificing your own physical, emotional or financial well-being? Are you afraid that people won’t love you unless you take care of them?

If the answer is yes to any of these, you may be codependent.

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It's Okay to Talk About It

My old friend Chris Primesberger posed an interesting question recently in a post on Facebook:

“Not a big deal,” Chris wrote, “but why can't we say someone died anymore? Passing is what someone does to overtake a slower driver on the freeway.”

I’ve actually pondered this question quite a bit. I’m a grief counselor, and I rarely hear people say someone has died. It’s usually that someone has “passed,” or “transitioned,” or “crossed over.” It seems that in this culture, we’ll do almost anything to avoid using the “d” word, like a name that must not be spoken.

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Mindfulness-based Therapy for Trauma and PTSD

Anxiety and other symptoms that accompany trauma and PTSD come in many forms - from manageably low levels of agitation to high levels of stress, intrusive memories, panic attacks and flashbacks that can make life feel unmanageable. Mindfulness can be an effective tool in trauma treatment to help manage these difficult episodes, and help sufferers learn to stay grounded and recover more quickly.

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