I Experienced Trauma — Here Are The Wellness Practices I Rely On To Cope

Image: Kate Van Horn

Fully outside of political persuasions, the trial last week left countless women around the world triggered. I was one of them.

After experiencing sexual abuse as a child, I shared my story for the first time as a young teenager and began what would become a long journey to healing. I tried everything from EMDR to trauma-informed dialectical behavioral therapy to mindfulness practices. I began a yoga and meditation practice in hopes of reconnecting with my body, inner child and self-worth. It took time and dedication, but these practices worked. I felt lighter each day.

Last week, I felt the heaviness begin to settle back into my heart and discomfort within my body build. Yup, there's that feeling again, I thought. I knew it was time to reconnect with my worth and prioritize myself. As a yoga teacher and health blogger, I've been able to empower myself in healing from trauma by developing tools for coping: knowing and recognizing when triggers arise and having the resources and skills to do something about them rather than allowing past trauma to continue to envelop you in shame or fear. Of course, this is just what worked for me—if you feel it's right, I highly recommend you consult a health care professional.

Here are some of the practices I use regularly to stand in my power and remind myself of my safety.

Move your body—mindfully.

Any and all movement. Our bodies store the energetic imprint of our memories. When triggers or reminders creep in, we can rely on our old coping mechanisms including fight, flight, or freeze. Move in a way that feels nurturing or even intense and explosive. Whatever you do, do not hold back.

Get outdoors; hit your feet against the pavement as you run and feel grounded. Regain your footing.

Go to a yoga class in a studio that feels safe and supportive, perhaps skipping the class with loud music and opting for a gentle flow. Take up space on your mat, claim your surroundings and stand in your power while you move with confidence. Remember your yoga teacher will think nothing of it if you opt out of a pose or take the flow on a journey that is all your own.

Dance wildly. Let your hair down, stomp your feet, sway your hips. Movement is so cathartic and deeply healing. Victims of trauma may feel powerless in their own bodies and through expressive and expansive movement, we can let go of rigidity and celebrate ourselves.

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Speak lovingly to yourself.

This is likely the hardest and most uncomfortable for many trauma survivors. When triggered, it can be beneficial to speak to yourself as if you were the age when the trauma occurred.

Speak kindly and compassionately.

Let yourself know you are there, that this is not happening again, and that you are protecting yourself in the future. Listen and see yourself at that time in your life. Do not dismiss any pain or shame you know your former self is feeling. Thank yourself for being so strong and resilient.

But what does speaking lovingly to yourself actually look like? It can be done staring in the mirror, journaling through the form of a letter, or sitting in meditation and visualizing a conversation with yourself. Have this conversation in a way and setting that feels safe and comfortable for you.

Set a boundary around screen time.

In the past I've felt guilty for not engaging with upsetting news and media. I felt ashamed, like I was choosing ignorance over educating myself. Truth is, we must protect the energy frequency we live in. We have the fundamental right to remain feeling positive, light, joyful. When news, social media, or a toxic relationship in your life is draining you of that, it’s time to take a break.

I had many conversations last week with my female friends who needed distance. We supported one another while we took time away from the stream of updates and news coverage. We loved one another through it. We loved ourselves. We played our small part in elevating the consciousness and compassion this world so badly needs during a difficult time, by refusing to lose our own light. As trauma survivors we can carry programming that tells us we're less than, so combatting that with boundaries is crucial.

Return to your core group of trusted supports.

Speaking of lifting one another up, when deeply triggered or re-traumatized, try to lessen your social commitments. Respectfully decline a lunch meeting to instead walk outdoors for a break and call a longtime friend. Isolating yourself is not the answer, but when memories return we can feel out of our bodies or out of place in our surroundings. By prioritizing time with family or friends who know of the trauma and support you through healing, victims don't feel the need to wear a mask of false bravery.

Yoga is incredible for keeping your body & mind healthy. Ready to learn about how the power of food can also create a sound body & mind? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

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