How to Face the New Year When You Have Suffered From Emotional and Psychological Trauma: A Guide for Women
The coming of the New Year means it’s time for a fresh start. The passing of the old year offers a unique opportunity to punch the reset button, if you’re truly ready to do so. But things aren’t so easy for women who’ve experienced serious emotional and psychological trauma. The scars run deep and learning to trust others—and life itself—is not easy. There’s no reason to give up hope, however, regardless of how much you’ve been struggling. Your traumatic experiences don’t have to define who you are indefinitely. Recovery is possible if you take the initiative.
You may have been a victim of domestic violence, or physical or sexual assault at the hands of a partner or stranger. You may have been in a terrible accident, which led to serious injuries for you or the death of a loved one. You may have been impacted by war or natural disaster, which put you at the mercy of forces you couldn’t possible control.
There are many possibilities. But the source of the trauma doesn’t matter as much as its suddenness and the severity of its impact.
It’s natural to be in denial following a traumatic experience. When something is too terrible to contemplate, the natural tendency is to try to forget. But repressing the memories won’t make them go away. Instead, it will only reinforce them, leaving them unaddressed, unresolved, and free to continue damaging your life.
Symptoms of Emotional and Psychological Trauma
The symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma will betray its presence. These symptoms are varied and disturbing, and may include:
- Irritability or frequent mood swings
- Chronic anxiety, seemingly unrelated to any external events
- Panic attacks, usually triggered by reminders of the trauma
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Social isolation and withdrawal
- Depression or sadness
- Unexplained muscle aches and pains
- Emotional numbness or detachment
- Insomnia and/or nightmares
- Persistent feelings of guilt and shame related to the traumatic experiences
- Excessive fear of crowds, loud noises, being away from home at night, or any other circumstance that contains elements of unpredictability
- Flashbacks to the traumatic events, often so intense they seem as real as the initial trauma
Perhaps you’ve experienced just a few of these symptoms. But if none were present before the trauma, it’s a clear sign of trouble that shouldn’t be ignored. The integrity of your mental health has been compromised, and you’ll remain fragmented by your trauma until you do something to address it.
Learning to Manage Your Emotional and Psychological Trauma
Emotionally and psychologically traumatic experiences can turn your life upside down. They can steal your sense of safety and security, leaving you feeling vulnerable in many situations. Anxiety can become your daily companion, exhausting you and limiting you despite your best efforts to keep going.
Trauma stays with you in your memories. But its impact goes much farther. It changes your view of what the world is really like. It can damage your self-esteem, leaving you feeling powerless to protect yourself or the ones you love.
If you don’t do anything about it, your emotional and psychological trauma can send your life spinning out of control. Fortunately, you can take action to prevent this from happening. Through your own initiative, you can take positive steps to regain control over your thoughts and emotions.
As the New Year dawns, there are some lifestyle changes you can make that will help lift your spirits and put you on track to recovery. You can adopt these behaviors based on New Year’s resolutions, or simply use the turning of the calendar as a convenient marker for altering your approach.
When emotional and psychological trauma becomes dominant, here are three ways to fight back:
#1. End Your Isolation
During stressful or difficult times, some occasional alone time can be helpful. But the last thing you want to do is isolate yourself completely from your friends and family members, or from people in general. Human beings are social creatures who rely on each other for guidance, support, companionship, and motivation.
Simple times with loved ones can do wonders for your disposition. But there are other ways to increase your social interactions that can also jumpstart your healing process. For example, volunteer work can help you take your mind off your own suffering, while also increasing your sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Starting a new business, possibly along with a good friend or close family member, is another way to get your mind off your trauma and focused on something more exciting and transformative.
In virtually every community of any size, there are support groups for women who’ve experienced trauma. Participating in such a group could represent a decisive step on your road to self-empowerment. Your interactions with peers who offer unconditional support and understanding can inspire your best efforts and leave you feeling far less vulnerable than you did before.
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#2. Embrace Wellness as a Lifestyle
Mind, body, and spirit are interconnected. Consequently, anything you can do to improve or restore your health will have an impact on every aspect of your life.
You cannot banish your trauma—or its immediate effects—by changing your living habits. But you can replenish your psychological and emotional immune systems when you embrace wellness as a lifestyle, giving you the resiliency you need to rise from the depths.
There is nothing magical or complex about embracing wellness. Doing so means exercising regularly, preferably outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, and in the company of people who care about you and will encourage your efforts to get in better shape. It also means cleaning up your diet, to eliminate processed foods or excessive fats and sugars in favor of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods. Embracing wellness means getting plenty of sleep, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and staying away from people or situations that you know will cause you stress.
When people make New Year’s resolutions, they frequently involve just these types of changes. In your case, the need is especially urgent, and that should give you extra motivation to follow through on your promises.
#3. Seek Expert Professional Help
While self-help strategies are important, you won’t be able to get past your trauma on your own.
Residential treatment for a trauma disorder, in a facility staffed by compassionate, world-class mental health professionals, will give you a real chance to overcome the worst effects of your trauma. There’s a good chance you’ll be diagnosed with PTSD if you seek professional help, since this is a common result when you’re exposed to traumatic events or circumstances.
Regardless of your official diagnosis, evidence-based therapies can help you come to terms with everything you’ve experienced. With the aid of expert healers, you can break through the walls you’ve erected to protect yourself from the pain. If left to stand, these walls will actually prolong your suffering, since what cannot be faced cannot be overcome.
You aren’t helpless in the face of emotional and psychological trauma. In fact, healing from serious trauma requires your participation. With the assistance of trained mental health counselors, you can be an active co-creator in your own recovery.
Long-term wellness is within your grasp, this year and every year for the rest of your life. The arrival of the New Year is a great time to take charge of your future, and if you’re willing to confront your trauma this could be the year that changes everything.
Helix Treatment Center’s innovative gender-specific mental health treatment program is designed to help women gain the life skills and strength needed to manage their symptoms and learn to better cope with the lingering effects of trauma, PTSD and other mental health disorders in a supportive environment. We offer a tranquil space to restore emotional and behavioral health and stability in a safe, comfortable environment at our six-bed residence nestled in the beautiful Mt. Helix region of San Diego.
Contact us to learn more about our program and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.