WHY HEALING TRAUMA MUST BE A MULTI-FACETED APPROACH
One of the things that took me a really long time to learn was that the healing from trauma I needed to do was going to look a lot different than I was led to believe. I don’t mean that someone came and told me a plan, then changed it on me. Instead, society crafts a story around mental health, and this story doesn’t fit a lot of us who struggle with our mental health.
The story they spin shows that something really bad happens to you (trauma) and you experience a psychotic break. So, you are forced into a psychiatric hospital and given all of these drugs. Onward in their tale, you suddenly experience a dark night of the soul which snaps you out of your psychosis and your mental state suddenly turns back into a peachy keen jelly bean.
THAT'S NOT HOW IT HAPPENS FOR SO MANY OF US
There are a few elements of truth. Sure, some of us fall into psychosis, but they don't commit use because of it. Some of us will experience a dark night of the soul where we snap back into reality and get our shit together.
For most of us though, mental illness and getting back to wellness is a much more gentle progression. You see, there’s a lot at play here when it comes to managing our mental health and daily stresses. When we focus on healing the root cause of what causes all our symptoms, it’s not as easy to do with just one facet.
Let me explain. A lot of people equate mental health with going to therapy. If you suffer from mental illness or a traumatic experience, you go to therapy. The same if you are healing trauma. Whereas if you were physically sick with something like COVID or had a broken bone, you’d go to a medical doctor.
OUR MENTAL HEALTH IS TIED WITH STRONG EMOTIONS
These are hard emotions we haven’t processed like anger that gets stored up or sadness that we haven’t been able to fully grieve. These emotions get stored up in our physical body and can manifest in dis-ease and illness. This is a fact.
When it comes to mental health healing, we also need to go to the physical. We manifest the emotions in our brains into the physical world. For example, I have had tight hips for a very long time. While my flat feet definitely contribute to it, I know that the hips store stress. My very stressful childhood caused a lot of that emotion to manifest as stiffness in my hips.
There are a certain number of trains of thought you have to believe to understand how this works, but this is scientifically proven. Gabor Mate and Bessel Van Der Kolk talk about it. Our emotions manifest in our physical body.
PROCESSING TRAUMA PHYSICALLY
Not only do we have to process trauma through the mind using therapy, but we also have to process it through the body. These are all things that make up the idea of self-care. That’s why self-care is going for a walk or stretching. Doing these things can open up and release trauma or strong emotions that have been stored in your physical body.
Now another thing we need to do is to calm our nervous system. If you struggle with anxiety, which 70% of the population does, you will know what I mean. Our nervous system lives in fight or flight. That’s what anxiety is.
When our nervous systems go into fight or flight that means the stress hormones are pumping through our body. These hormones make us limber and ready to go and cause our breathing to get shallower like we’re being chased by a woolly mammoth and we have to get away otherwise we will die. I know that seems weird but that’s why our body reacts the way it does.
When this happens chronically, every single day for months or years on end, you can imagine how that can impact your day to day life
HOW DO WE CALM THE NERVOUS SYSTEM DOWN?
We do that by doing yoga, taking a nap, or relaxing in the bath. We calm down by snuggling a baby, a dog, a cat, a mouse, or even a snake if you’re into that. It’s asking for the things that you need. Maybe that could mean cuddles with your husband or your kids. Maybe it’s going out for takee out so you can use the time you would for cooking to paint instead. Calming down the nervous system is self-care. By doing this, you're healing from trauma.
It’s also making sure we nourish our bodies. I see this one thing immensely overlooked today, especially when it comes down to how we manage our mental health. A lot of people who suffer from long-term anxiety drink lots of coffee, eat lots of sugar, and skip meals. Then they wonder why their body goes into a physical anxiety attack.
Well, not only are they stuck in fight or flight mode, but they haven’t fed their body the proper nutrients in quite some time. I don’t know the last time my body enjoyed not being fed properly. Also keep in mind that with your nervous system in fight or flight, your body still sends the red alert that you’re being chased by a woolly mammoth.
For you to tell your physical body that you're not about to get run down by a furry prehistoric elephant, you must nourish yourself. Remember it's important to eat your veggies, fruit, protein, and take supplements for the vitamins and minerals your diet is lacking. I know I’m beating a dead horse when I say this, but food impacts you way more than they want you to believe.
HEALING FROM TRAUMA; THIS IS HOW.
Therapy can help, but it works better if you work on bringing down your stress levels through self-care and nourishing your body. Healing from trauma must be a multi-faceted approach. And you can do it.