As it was discussed in the previous blogs this month, trauma can cause detrimental and devastating effects on an individual and can create long-lasting negative consequences. Here are a few suggestions on how you can help manage your responses to trauma.
1. Evaluate your Window of Tolerance
Check in with yourself to determine if you are functioning in the Window of Tolerance. The Window of Tolerance means you are functioning effectively and are within the optimal zone for emotional regulation and dealing with stressors. When you are outside the Window of Tolerance, you are being triggered and could be experiencing stress responses – heightened anxiety, intrusive thoughts, dissociation, emotional shut down, etc. Some ways to help get into your Window of Tolerance is by using grounding exercises, self-compassion, connection with others, and self-care/self-soothing activities.
2. Connect with your 5 senses
Using your senses (sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell) can keep you in the present and regulate your system. An exercise called “5,4,3,2,1” can help with this. Identify the following:
- 5 things you see
- 5 things you hear
- 5 things you feel
Continue by repeating this exercise by identify four things you see, hear, feel. Keep doing this until you get to one.
3. Regulate yourself through deep breathing
Breathing is a powerful tool to help us regulate our systems. Practicing deep breathing when you’re experiencing a stress response triggered by your trauma is very helpful. It can also be a tool you use in your daily routine to stay grounded and calm. I always teach my clients to breathe in through the nose for 7 seconds, hold their breath for 5 seconds, and breath out through the mouth for 8 seconds. Practice this for at least 1 minute.
4. Find someone to connect with
Connection with others is helpful and vital for healthy human functioning. When feeling triggered or stressed talk to others, get together with friends, develop closer relationships with family members. Essentially, build a strong support system of people you can trust to help you. The important thing is to open up and let those close to you in.
5. Identify your triggers and how your body Responds
Understanding potential triggers and trying to manage those triggers is important. Set yourself up for success by identifying the things that act as your triggers and, if possible, try to avoid them or remove them from your environment. It is also important to pay attention to how your body reacts to different emotions in order to identify what you may be feeling quicker. Listening to the cues your body is giving you can help keep you present and identify which emotions your feeling so you respond effectively.
6. Seek out professional help
Managing the emotional after-effects of trauma can be debilitating and exhausting. Therapy can help you process your trauma experiences so you can create a more peaceful and healthy way of living. Finding a therapist who works with trauma is crucial to working through those harmful memories that are still impacting you today.
These strategies and tools are ways to help manage traumatic stress and experiences. However, in order to help overcome previous trauma in your life therapy is needed. If you are someone who has experienced trauma and continue to be affected negatively, please reach out to Emmaus Psychology for professional help with healing.