Self-Care Tips for Trauma and Abuse Survivors

If you are a trauma survivor, you have a challenging journey ahead of you, but this healing process can also be empowering. Healing from trauma and abuse teaches us how to engage in self-care and express ourselves. In addition, you can connect with other survivors to find comfort, validation and support. For trauma and abuse survivors, here are some tips that will benefit you through the healing process:

Positive affirmations

Our subconscious mind is affected by abusive words and harmful actions, so you literally need to reprogram your brain to minimize the destructive thoughts. These negative thoughts provoke self-sabotage and hold you back from rebuilding your life. Many of the thoughts probably aren’t your own, but the voices of your bullies and abusers. As human beings, we usually continue to abuse ourselves after being bullied or abused by someone else. Engage in daily positive affirmations, using positive words like “I am beautiful” or “I am worthy” whenever you want to think something negative. Say these things out loud to combat your toxic thoughts. You can also write them down or record yourself saying them and replay the words over and over again.

Heal your body

Trauma lives in the body as well as the mind. It’s important to find one physical outlet for the intense emotions of grief, rage and hurt you’ll feel after trauma. If you don’t channel these feelings, it’s common to end up in paralysis, feeling numb and frozen. Do something you love, never force your body into activities you’re uncomfortable with or exhaust yourself. Exercise should be an act of self-care, not destruction.

Watch your breathing

For those who struggle with PTSD or complex PTSD, mindful breathing exercises and meditations can help manage your responses to flashbacks and ruminating thoughts. Taking your time to observe your breath, whether it’s for five minutes or an hour, can be helpful to manage emotions and address triggers. Meditation will also literally rewire your brain so you can mindfully approach responses that keep you locked in the trauma.

Channel pain into creativity

Art therapy is helpful for survivors of PTSD, as it enables survivors to find modes of expression that allow them to create and integrate instead of self-destruct. Expressing trauma in a corporal way is important because trauma and the dissociation that comes from it can be difficult to process with words. Whether you’re painting, drawing, making music or writing, it’s important to release the trauma in ways that engage both mind and body. When you create something, you can share it with others. Harnessing pain into creativity can be a life-changing experience for you and those around you.

Ask for help

Asking for help doesn’t make you powerless. In fact, it proves that you have the power to seek help and receive it. Sharing your story with other survivors can be healing, but if you’re seriously struggling with trauma, it’s recommended to find a specialized mental health professional and/or support group.

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