Wrapping up Trauma with a Pretty Little Bow?
The holiday season can flare up remembrance of past trauma. Perhaps it is reminders of loved ones who have created the trauma, being around non-supportive folks or maybe even how traumatic experiences occurred right around the holidays. So how then, can we wrap up trauma with a pretty little bow?
Being able to wrap up or contain our trauma from affecting our daily lives is a difficult task. Here are a few ideas for how to start the process:
- Coping Toolbox
Grounding is a way to put you back in the present moment. This tool is helpful when experiencing flashbacks, if you start to drift off or disassociate and to serve as a reminder that you are safe in this exact moment. To “ground” yourself, you can begin by using your five senses (i.e. sight, touch, smell, taste, hear). Using these senses, you are not only able to slow down your racing thoughts but also become reconnected with your body. When we are not grounded, the traumatic event(s) can hijack our thoughts, emotions and body. We are taken right back to that moment in time where we felt scared, powerless or stuck. Another method to grounding can be as simple as tapping your fingers on your knees or shoulders and saying “In this moment, I am safe”.
A coping toolbox can also be extremely helpful to ground us and to create calm in a time of distress. Your tools can help with breathing, the release of the physiological parts of trauma and help you outside of traditional therapy sessions.
- Bubbles: Target and the dollar store have small containers that are inconspicuous with the ability to fit into a backpack or purse. Bubbles force us to slow down our breathing in order to create a bubble. You can take them into the restroom at a relative’s house or even into a restaurant restroom stall. Nobody will ever know you are having difficulty in that moment.
- Play dough or silly putty: Both help engage you in a tactile experience that produces sensations bringing you into the present moment.
- A box of mints or tic-tacs: These can help engage all five senses. Taking the time to explore the sight, smell, taste, touch and even sound (whether in their box or in your mouth as you crunch your last bite).
Your tools can be multipurpose as they serve to provide self-soothing, distraction or perhaps company while you overcome powerful emotions. These tools should be easily accessible and things that you feel comfortable with turning to for some relief.
Self-care in the context of this post is to suggest offering yourself compassion or grace with the process of healing from trauma. The road toward healing can be arduous but you are a resilient human being who has survived trauma. Having this trauma can be a gift that comes with a pretty bow on top if you are willing to explore it, accept it (different from approving of it) and work through it. You are in control of your trauma now.
*Disclaimer: These tools are not a substitute to traditional therapy but rather as adjunct options.
I originally wrote this as a guest blogger while working for a group practice in 2016.
© Erica Faulhaber 2015 – This blog may be shared or reprinted as long as the information is unedited and the author bio, including contact information is printed along with the blog.