We all experience trauma. It’s the nature of life. Even my most zen-filled friends can’t avoid it. I don’t want to sound gloomy, but we are constantly faced with disappointments and heartache. Not all those experiences that cause disappointment can be classified as “traumatic,” however, we all respond to situations differently. You may feel great pain from something that I shrug my shoulders to. And then, there are those experiences we read and hear about that we know, without question, leave a permanent mark. Even if recovery happens, that experience, that trauma, has altered the life of the victim. Yes…victim. They are painful to even hear about, let alone experience.
We live in a world that is more accepting of alternate paths. “Alternative” is seen all over the place. As I was growing up, listening to “alternative” music was popular and fun and pretty much the extent of my exposure to anything “alternative.” However, as the world changes, molds have been broken and we are seeing an outpouring of alternative methods for not just music, but medicine, education, “lifestyles,” and healing.
Please, always seek professional help when necessary.
When we speak of addressing trauma, a traditional method would be to begin a therapy program with a licensed psychologist or certified therapist. And let me be clear: I do believe that when faced with trauma, it is very important to seek out professional help. Let us not undermine our own value and worth by assuming we can handle this on our own and neglect our own proper care. There are professionals who are really good at what they do. They can help you recognize feelings and behaviors that you may not realize you have or do. Unless addressed by a professional, many underlying feelings may fester and cause greater concern later on.
As an example, a friend of mine was present when her father was shot and killed. As a young girl, this was obviously very traumatic. If you even can, try to imagine what that would be like…and then for her mother who was now a young widow after a violent death of her husband, with her two children present. She must navigate a new life while dealing with her own feelings and worrying about her children’s as well. Decades later, this friend feels that some of her struggles, including post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder stem from this event…something she never really dealt with or addressed until much later in life. A professional could have given her an opportunity to work through her trauma. Please, always seek professional help when necessary.
But there certainly are many alternative methods to help address and work through trauma. Though there may not be many studies to prove these methods make a difference, but they still may be worth exploring if you find yourself struggling with a traumatic experience. If you are currently meeting with a psychologist, adding one of these items may help aid in your treatment. In fact, they may even be the ones to recommend these activities/methods to you.
There is great value in meditation. More and more research is coming forth expressing the benefit of taking time from your day to meditate. There are different methods of meditation. The main goal, however, being to clear your mind and practice mindfulness. Being present. Noticing you heart and breath. Clearing thoughts. It’s all about that moment. Many have found excellent results including an inner peace, lowered stress levels, and less anxiety.
The practice of yoga has been around for centuries and there is plenty of evidence that yoga does wonders for the body and mind. According to the American Psychological Association, Hatha Yoga has shown to be effective in reducing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, especially for those who don’t seem to be responding to therapy and medication.
Reiki, Emotional Freedom Technique, Emotion Code, and more. There are so many different energy therapies available that truly have helped people work through their problems…their past traumas. Amy Francis, an energy practitioner and founder of Blossom Holistic Health, states, “What is good to remember when dealing with trauma is that emotional or even physical trauma has an energy that is involved when the trauma occurred. Sometimes when we experience trauma it will move through us and we heal and move on. But if you notice that you are not healing from it, and you can’t move on, it could be that trauma energy is stuck in your system. If you are going to doctors and no one can help you find relief, I would find someone that knows how to work with energy so they can release the trauma for you. And then your body can heal itself.”
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who was the victim of sexual assault. This happened more than once while in a church building or in a religious and spiritual setting. It wasn’t until years later that this horrific experience that had been buried began to produce very painful memories and problems in her life. She explains that not only was it her therapist that helped her begin to work through this trauma, but “through therapy, art, music, LONG drives to different states for hours on end, talks with friends, messages of support from loved ones, a significant amount of baseball, Harry Potter audiobooks on repeat, and a good amount of Prozac and Klonopin for anxiety and panic attacks, I have arrived where I am now.”
There doesn’t seem to be ONE right way to address trauma for EVERYONE…but there is a right way for YOU as an individual. It’s only through exploring different techniques can you find what will resonate with your unique personality and style. You may even surprise yourself what ends up helping you along the way. As an example, my friend Vanessa had never painted before, but after some time, began painting and now has a collection of her work.
I’ve mentioned three suggestions of where to start…but ultimately, what matters most when addressing trauma is that you do actually start.
And that first step, though often one of the hardest, is also the most important.