You Deserve to Be Free From Pain in Every Moment of Your Beautiful Life
By Guest Author, Alison Price Bergh
For those who have experienced trauma in their lives, the healing process can seem like an insurmountable mountain ahead of them. Trauma can take the form of physical, emotional, or mental harm, or a combination of all three. The results can be far-reaching and deeply impactful to the physical body as well as the psyche and your mental health.
Complex post-traumatic stress disorder can arise, especially after prolonged exposure to toxic and abuse people and environments. Symptomatically, complex PTSD has been linked to conditions as diverse as chronic pain and fatigue, depression and anxiety, addiction and self-harm. These are all coping mechanisms that the body, mind, and spirit are trying to utilize to draw attention to the wounding and bring about greater awareness, which is the first step towards healing.
The baseline that anyone who is striving to become aware of their trauma experiences and the effects that likely are touching many aspects of their life must be rooted in grace and self-compassion in order to fully support the individual in recovery. Self-compassion can easily be swept up in anger and shame, which is understandable for those who have experienced trauma because of the many conflicting messages they have received from the toxic person or people in their lives.
Mindfulness-based therapy can be an incredibly effective tool for generating self-compassion and awareness of the internal environment. A safe and caring space to recognize and feel the wide range of emotions present in the body and the psyche will allow the individual in recovery to regain greater agency and empowerment within their own emotional sphere.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a gentle and powerful therapeutic technique that supports the mind in healing from trauma by allowing the body to release emotions and memories attached to disturbing life experiences. Many people have found that it cuts down the time of processing from over a year too much less using this technique, with incredibly positive results.
Set aside time every day to “check-in” with your body, mind, and emotional state. Through trauma, many people disassociate themselves from their true feelings, thoughts, desires, and needs, as a defense mechanism to protect them from a dangerous environment. By creating a safe space for yourself, you start to change these patterns and actually create fluidity in experiencing who you really are.
Journaling is a wonderful practice that is easy to incorporate into your day to day life, and it can have amazing results. Give yourself grace and freedom to express whatever you want, however you want in those pages – whether you sketch with colored pencils, make lists, write poetry, or purge your deepest, hidden feelings through stream-of-consciousness writing.
In addition to at-home self-care practices like journaling, making time for bodywork therapy such as massage, reiki, or craniosacral therapy can be an important step in allowing the body to come back to a state of homeostasis. Homeostasis is the state of peace and balance within the internal environment, a state the body is always trying hard to create for itself.
When stress and trauma are stored in the body, it works so hard to try and balance itself, creating a host of other issues such as inflammation, chronic pain, fatigue, digestive issues and many more. Incorporating bodywork therapies allow the parasympathetic nervous system to relax and create a more conducive internal environment for everything to come back into balance.
The theme of homeostasis is a helpful tool in understanding where our body and mind want to exist at all times – in a state of balance, openness, where all processes can function fully and to their highest expression. There are many natural products that are easily accessible that can support you in this endeavor: aromatherapy, flower essences, CBD and hemp flower, and herbal teas.
You can find coloring books that are meant to reduce anxiety, guided journals that lead you through positive affirmation meditations, and apps to help you achieve restful sleep. Filling your diet with fresh, minimally-processed foods can make a huge impact as well, and many people who are in the process of healing from trauma have found that an anti-inflammatory diet helps them self-regulate with greater clarity.
Embodiment practices are extremely empowering for those who have experienced trauma because the fight-or-flight responses and defense mechanisms of the body and mind engage when we are in danger, and ongoing trauma can stop them from rebalancing themselves. Anything that gets you in touch with your five senses can be very beneficial, including breathing practices, yoga, running, and many more.
Getting out into the vibrant energy of the natural world can be especially healing for the body, mind, and spirit. Forest bathing is an ancient Japanese practice that engages all of the senses with mindfulness techniques to truly absorb the healing potential present in the natural world. Think of it as part nature walk, part moving meditation, and part contemplation of life. This reduces stress and tension, easing the symptoms of depression and anxiety with gentleness and compassion. Those who suffer from chronic pain and fatigue have reported a reduction in their symptoms as well, and the overall nourishment of the parasympathetic nervous system provides even more wide-reaching benefits over time.
No matter if you have 15 minutes or several hours, try taking a mindful walk in the woods, by a river, or in a nearby park today. While you’re there, go through each of your five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell, and try to become present with each of them. Notice how they interact with the environment. Deep breaths in the fresh air, combined with the feeling of the sun and wind on your skin, will bring you immediately into your body and you will feel more peaceful and empowered in no time at all.
The process of healing from trauma and complex post-traumatic stress is an intense and revealing experience, but the effort is worth it. You deserve to feel free to be who you are, free from pain, and able to be fully present in every moment of your beautiful life. We hope some of these self-care tips help you do just that!