10 Ways to Soothe Yourself After A Traumatic Event

By Jessica Shoflick

The response to an unexpected, distressing or deeply unsettling event is how we define trauma. Compared to chronic stress or life’s obstacles, traumatic events are sudden and make us feel out of control. These traumatic events can occur in one instance, such as a car accident, or repeated events over a long period of time, such as a global pandemic. These experiences take an incredible emotional toll; however, it is also important to note that trauma affects more than just our psychological system. During the traumatic event and beyond, our body has ways to physiologically respond to protect us and defend us against the perceived threat. The sympathetic nervous system kickstarts releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol that push our body and mind into fight, flight or freeze mode. The ongoing physiological and psychological effects are felt long after the traumatic event occurs especially if the trauma is experienced repeatedly over a long period of time.

Although the experience of trauma is often out of our control, understanding ways to cope with the psychological and physiological effects is in our power. Here are 10 ways to soothe yourself after a traumatic experience:

Give Yourself Time

Before finding ways to cope with the trauma, simply identifying the experience and acknowledging that it happened at all is incredibly important. Be sure to remind yourself that your reaction to the trauma and feelings are normal responses and very justified.

Music

The benefits of music and its effect on our mood have been long studied. Listening to music of your choice can lessen anxiety, reduce stress, regulate emotions and increase relaxation.

Seek A Safe Place To Open Up

When you are ready to, it is important that after experiencing trauma or a traumatic event to find ways to safely talk about your experience. Whether this be with a close friend or loved one or seeking professional help with a therapist, discussing the trauma out loud and the ways it has impacted you can be incredibly validating and healing. You deserve to lean on others for support during this difficult time.

Mindfulness And Meditation

By practicing mindfulness and meditation, we can cultivate a greater sense of awareness. These practices help us to simply observe thoughts, feelings, emotions with an open and non-judgmental mindset. In the long run, it helps us be present to the current moment.

Journaling

Engaging in a personal journal where you can freely write your personal feelings, thoughts and emotions can aid in the healing of trauma. It allows us be honest about our experience, promote change and gain a deeper insight into how the traumatic experience is currently affecting us. Try using specific prompts in your journal as a guide.

Practice Self-Care

It may seem obvious but practicing self-care more frequently after experiencing a traumatic event is vital. Self-care can offer time alone, quality time with loved ones and offers you a chance to take a mental break from the stress. It can be something as simple as going for a walk or reading a book. Self-care does not mean breaking the bank, however, more importantly setting aside time and prioritizing your needs first with no excuses.

Sleep And Rest

Prioritize your rest and relaxation. Our body and mind take a toll from the experience of trauma and it is important to allow these systems to reset. Allow your mind and body a break from the intrusive thoughts, overwhelm and anxiety you may be experiencing.

Stay Connected

Being intentional about your use of time and staying connected to your social circle is important after experiencing a traumatic event. Surrounding yourself with positive social supports and those who care for you is equally crucial to being alone and decompressing. You deserve the extra attention and love during this time.

Exercise

Get out and move your body. The release of endorphins is increased during exercise which can inherently reduce stress and pain. A walk, gentle stretching and deep breathing will do just the trick. It has been found that consistent exercise of any form can have positive aftereffects from trauma.

Join A Support Group

Oftentimes confiding in those who have experienced a similar experience or trauma in general can be just what we need. Sharing and hearing from others will validate your feelings and thoughts while also giving you ideas to cope. Your doctor or mental health professional can help you seek one out.

Learning to navigate trauma and finding ways to cope with the ongoing, lingering effects is incredibly complex. It is important to acknowledge that trauma is different for every person. The way you experience trauma may be different than your loved one or family member and that is completely normal. With time and the proper coping mechanisms you will begin to build back your resiliency. One day at a time.