We’re going to talk about how you can practice self care after a trauma. While I would love to live in a world where no one needs this information, it know that’s not the case. So take the advice if you think it will be helpful for you but know that as with everything else, some things may or may not work. Talk to a professional if you need to and make sure you’re being kind to yourself no matter what.
Related: Seven Day Self Care Challenge
Self care, weather after a trauma or not is a big and very important part of living a healthy life. It’s one of those things that we have to do. Afterall, if we don’t take care of ourselves no one is going to do it for us.
A solid self care routine will not only help you cope with the little annoyances life throws at you throughout the day, it can also help you manage any pain or struggles you may still be facing from difficult events in your past.
Perhaps the toughest thing to remember is that self care isn’t a one size fits all solution. I firmly believe it is a necessity in everyone’s life, but the activities and the ways it’s implemented need to be tailored to each individual person.
The purpose of a self care routine is to make sure you are meaningfully and consistently taking steps to make yourself healthy and comfortable. This becomes even more important if you’re going through a time of healing after a trauma.
Whether it happened yesterday or a decade ago, you might feel as though you’ll never be comfortable or safe again. Relaxing might sound like the most stressful activity you can imagine. That’s understandable. But, self care, in whatever way you can manage it, is an important step to coping with the short and long term effects of trauma.
What is Self Care?
After a trauma, self care can take many forms. It doesn’t have to be a planned and well executed ordeal. Simply taking a few minutes every day to check in with yourself can go a long way. In fact, I think checking in with yourself might be the single most beneficial thing you can do for yourself while you’re recovering.
Recovering from a traumatic event is difficult, confusing and scary. It’s likely we don’t even know what our bodies need from us. Self care today might be very different from the care we needed yesterday, and there is nothing wrong with that.
One of the best ways to make sure you’re giving your body and mind what it needs to heal is to check in with yourself. Take note of what you’ve done and haven’t done today, think about what you want to do. What will help you feel better, more at ease with yourself?
Physical Self Care
Physically, we want to stay strong and healthy all the time but it becomes especially important during times of healing. You might have injuries, they might have healed years ago. Recovering is exhausting, emotionally as well as physically. Taking care of your body during this time can help ensure you have the strength to deal with the difficult and likely emotional days ahead.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help guide your self care efforts make sure you’re taking care of yourself in the best way you can.
How have you been sleeping?
Do you need to take a nap? Is there something in particular keeping you up at night? Some small tweaks (a new pillow, keeping the room warmer/ cooler, or opening/ closing the door) can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Be gentle with yourself. If you can’t sleep for whatever reason, don’t beat yourself up over it. Make the most of your extra time awake by doing something relaxing like meditating, reading or journaling.
Related: Tips for Getting a Good Sleep
Have you been eating well?
Did you have a healthy meal today? Feeding your body the nutrients it craves can help you stay strong during your recovery.
Do the best you can and make as many healthy food choices as possible. But if all you want is to sit in front of the TV and eat a pint of ice cream, allow yourself to do that as well.
What sort of exercise have you been doing lately?
Do you want to go for a walk? Do some cardio and sweat some of the stress out of you? Exercise provides awesome benefits for your physical and mental health.
Exhausting yourself physically can help you deal with all the emotions you’ve been working hard to process lately. It may also help you get a good night’s sleep.
Do you have any routines that used to help focus and center you?
Think back to before everything happened. Did you have any routines that helped you stay grounded, and ready to take on whatever the day had to offer you? It’s totally ok if you feel like everything has changed and you want to change those routines up as well. You might feel as though things will never be normal again, that’s completely understandable.
Sometimes getting back into your old routine can do wonders to help alleviate some of the fear and pain we carry around after a trauma. Performing routine tasks, as small as they may be, can lead to feelings of comfort and safety.
Emotional Self Care
Like everything else self care related, emotional care is different for everyone and varies over time. One very important part is finding the strength to be completely open and honest with yourself.
Healing from a trauma is an emotionally exhausting process. Taking proper care of yourself emotionally is one way to help make the process easier.
These questions will help guide your emotional self care efforts.
Are you spending time with positive people?
Do you have people in your life who help you feel supported, even safe? Have you spent time around them lately? Do you want to?
Sometimes spending time around people and in situations that feel safe can have amazing emotional benefits.
Have you done anything you enjoy today?
I know how busy and sometimes overwhelming life can get. Sometimes it feels like there’s no time for anything that if fun or relaxing.
Setting aside time for activities that make you happy can help make those other things more tolerable. Colouring, putting a puzzle together, reading, even mindfully watching TV can all provide an escape from the often painful reality of life. It’s ok to let yourself forget the pain for a few minutes.
Do you ever journal or write down your thoughts?
Is it something you might want to try?
Expressing yourself through writing is a safe way to share those awful thoughts and feelings that eat you up inside. It’s scary letting those things out, but remember you can tear the paper up into a million pieces after and no one will ever know what you wrote unless you want to tell them.
Do you have any positive affirmations to help keep you grounded when things get tough?
Everyone should have at least a few.
You can find some amazingly inspirational quotes online. Or check out my list of feel good quotes. It never hurts to have something positive to grab on to when life feels out of control.
Where do you go when you want to feel safe and grounded?
Do you have a place to go when you need to escape for a little while?
It doesn’t need to be anywhere fancy of glamorous, the point is that you feel safe there. Whether it’s a destination you find after a lengthy hike in the forest or the confines of your bedroom closet, isn’t important. The important part is you feeling comfortable and grounded, perhaps even enough to really relax for a couple minutes.
Have you tried any meditation or guided relaxation exercises?
YouTube has a whole bunch of guided relaxation videos if you don’t know where to start. This is often a difficult one, relaxing and being vulnerable in that way isn’t exactly after your sense of safety and security has been shaken. It might help to try this in that place where you feel the most safe.
Only do as much as you can handle, start small aim for a minute or two and work from them. Be gentle with yourself, it takes time to feel comfortable being relaxed again. You’ll get there when you’re ready.
Are their any self care activities that have been particularly helpful for you?
Need some help coming up with self care activities to do every day? I have just the thing for you. Every month I send out a self care calendar with amazing activities listed for every day. They may not all work for you, but you’ll get some awesome ideas. You can sign up here.