How to Heal From Trauma and 7 Signs You’re Dealing With Trauma

How to heal from trauma

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Have you ever dealt with trauma? Have you ever wondered to yourself how do you heal from trauma? Do you ever feel like you’re unsure how long healing from trauma should take?

These are all questions you may have asked yourself at some point in your life. How to heal from trauma and how much time it takes to heal from a traumatic experience depends on the person, as well as the severity of their trauma. Our goal with this article is to help you recognize some of the symptoms of trauma and begin your journey toward health and wholeness. Keep reading if you want to learn more.

One of the best ways to begin your journey to healing from a traumatic experience is by learning about what other people have done to recover. Recognizing signs that you’re dealing with trauma can be an important first step to starting your journey toward recovery.

Here are 7 different signs that indicate you could be experiencing symptoms of trauma:

You feel emotionally numb or disconnected from your feelings

One of the most common symptoms of trauma is numbing out and having trouble feeling emotions. This could manifest in many different ways:

  • Being unable to cry or express sadness even when it’s appropriate during difficult times like funerals.
  • Being unable to experience feelings of happiness or joy when you normally would be able to.
  • Having feelings come back after watching movies or seeing certain people who trigger traumatic memories or bring up memories of difficult circumstances you went through. This can often lead to avoidance.

People who experience this type of emotional numbing should try seeking help from counselors because this can be a sign of PTSD.

If you are experiencing emotional numbness or extreme emotions (such as anger), it’s important to know that these feelings won’t last forever, and there is help available for you! It may feel like your emotions will never come back, but they will return with time if you take care of yourself physically and mentally.

The key here is not to rush them—let the process unfold at its own pace so that when those emotions do start coming up again, you’re in a healthier place than before. This stage can happen months or even years after a traumatic experience. How long this takes varies from person-to-person depending on your experiences and the coping strategies used during your recovery process.

Trouble sleeping from dealing with trauma

You have trouble sleeping, or you sleep too much

Another sign that you may be dealing with trauma is trouble sleeping—in the form of either not being able to sleep or sleeping too much. Having nightmares and flashbacks can also be a common occurrence.

When experiencing nightmares/flashbacks try journaling them down before going back to bed because writing helps put those memories into words which makes them easier to process.

During a traumatic experience, your body releases high levels of adrenaline in response. This causes changes in brain chemistry as well as physical responses (increased heart-rate/blood pressure). It’s common for people who have experienced trauma to also deal with insomnia. Again, how long this lasts varies from person-to-person depending on your experiences and recovery process.

Whether you have trouble sleeping or you sleep too much, you may find yourself feeling exhausted because you’re unable to keep up with your regular activities. You may also have difficulty managing your responsibilities when you finally do get some rest. If you’re feeling consistently tired even after getting an adequate amount of sleep, it can be helpful to talk with a counselor about your feelings and frustrations.

Your thoughts are racing and you can't concentrate on anything for long time periods

It’s common to have racing thoughts when you’re dealing with trauma. This can be a sign that your brain is trying to process what happened to you, so it needs all the mental power available for this task.

When people are experiencing symptoms of trauma, they often feel like their thoughts are racing so much that it’s impossible to concentrate on anything. This can be a result of the high levels of adrenaline still being released in the body after emotional trauma. How long this lasts varies from person-to-person depending on your experiences with coping strategies and support systems available to you.

If you find yourself unable to concentrate or your mind is racing uncontrollably, try journaling down all those thoughts and emotions. It may also help if you’re able to take breaks during this process—like taking a walk around your neighborhood, meditation, yoga, or some deep breathing exercises. (For example, try coherent breathing. Inhale through the nose for six seconds. Then, exhale through the mouth for another six seconds. Repeat for up to ten minutes.) These are all ways to help you calm your mind and body so you can be more present with yourself and those around you again.

It can also be helpful to take a break from technology and social media if you find your mind continuing to race. Technology is a big part of our lives, but it can be helpful to take some time away if you’re finding yourself unable to concentrate or your mind is racing uncontrollably when using technology.

Post Traumatic Stress

Your relationships have been negatively affected by your trauma, and/or you've distanced yourself from loved ones

During recovery, it’s natural to feel less connected with loved ones—especially those who are unaware you’re dealing with trauma. This is also a sign that you’re starting to process what happened and how it has changed the way you connect with others in relationships. If you are dealing with trauma, it’s okay to take some time for yourself.

During recovery try reaching out initially to your family/friends by telling them that things have changed but they’re still important to you which helps ease into these conversations without feeling overwhelmed. You don’t have to go into deep details about why things feel different—just let them know where their place is within your life right now. The best way they can support you through your healing journey is to be sensitive about your needs and encourage you instead of pushing you.

If family or friends are placing pressure on you then it’s helpful to create boundaries with them because the added pressure on you may not be helpful during your healing journey; being direct brings greater clarity in those relationships. Setting up boundaries with people who are not supporting you during your healing journey, even if that person is a loved one, will help keep you protected and will open up space for those who can support you.

Sometimes, you may need time apart from your loved ones to reflect on the changes occurring within you. It’s important to be patient with yourself as well as with others around you.

You are experiencing high levels of anxiety

When you experience a traumatic event, your body releases stress hormones to help you deal with the intense emotional and physical pain. This can cause an increase in anxiety, if not dealt with appropriately, which is why it’s helpful to journal about how you feel during these moments as well as find healthy coping strategies like deep breathing or mediation.

It’s important to remember that your feelings are normal after a traumatic experience so just allow yourself some space when needed. You don’t have to face all of those emotions at once—it’s okay if you need breaks along the way.

It’s also important to remember not all stress/anxiety comes from trauma—it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture by asking questions such as:

  • How long have I been feeling this?
  • How does this affect my life?
  • How can I work this into a healthy routine?

Recovery is not linear and that’s okay—it just means you’re still learning and growing. It might be scary at times but know your worth and surround yourself with those who encourage you instead of discouraging you! The people in your life should motivate you while giving you space when needed. Healthy relationships build healthy individuals which creates positive environments where everyone thrives together without getting burned out along the way.

One of the most important things to remember is you are not alone—no matter how much it feels like it right now. There’s always someone out there who understands exactly what you’re going through. We all need a little support from time to time, but this doesn’t mean we should feel guilty for needing any of these things—you’re still trying to heal and grow as best you can which takes practice and patience.

trauma causing you to feel high levels of anxiety

There is a sense that the world feels out of control and unpredictable

A traumatic experience can change your perception of the world in unexpected ways. You might feel like you can’t trust people and see the world as a more dangerous place than it actually is. Sometimes, you don’t even recognize why these changes occur within you—you just know that something feels incredibly off.

It’s normal to feel this way after experiencing a traumatic event but it doesn’t mean you should stay stuck in those patterns. Remember these feelings will pass, and it’s okay if they don’t go away immediately. Change takes time—you cannot rush this process or you’ll end up pushing yourself too hard which is the last thing you need during recovery.

This isn’t a race for you to heal, but instead, allow your brain and body the time it needs to adapt and adjust after such an intense emotional event. Being patient with yourself is key! There might be certain things you can’t control which is okay.

Sometimes, the best thing you can do during these moments is to just breathe and let go of all expectations—this allows room to connect with yourself instead of focusing on what everyone else expects from you. Sometimes taking a step back helps us reflect on our actions/feelings so we can learn from them moving forward without getting burned out.

It may sound overwhelming but even taking small steps towards recovery is a big step for anyone who has experienced trauma—it means progress!

You feel guilty about not being able to handle everything on your own

Taking care of yourself and setting boundaries is not selfish, your mental wellbeing should be just as important as your physical health. We all deserve to heal from past traumas while having peace for the present moment—it doesn’t mean you’re being weak if you ask for help! In fact, asking for support shows great strength within yourself which can benefit others around you in return.

There is no manual for healing after trauma, it takes a lot of time and patience to get through trauma, but it’s possible with the right mindset. How you handle yourself during these moments will impact how successful your recovery is in the long run. This means asking questions like:

  • How do I want others to see me?
  • How do I feel supported during tough times?
  • How often do I need reminders that everything will be okay?

The answers may change over time, but it’s important to have this dialogue with yourself.

The world looks different when we’re thriving again and while recovery may look different depending on who you ask, there are key areas everyone has in common along their journey: hope, trust, vulnerability, and patience. These four factors will help guide your path towards healing after trauma if you let them.

Connect with Makin Wellness and learn how to heal from trauma in your life

This is not an overnight journey—it takes time and effort which makes it that much more rewarding in the end! How do you know when your trauma has healed? When you feel like yourself again inside and out. Your struggle makes you stronger every day because it reminds you of just how capable you really are even if no one else sees it yet. Once you find yourself thriving after a traumatic event, take some time to reflect on this moment because this means progress was (and still is) being made along your path towards healing.

It’s common for those who are dealing with trauma to experience some or all of these symptoms. Take care of your mental health by getting started with Pennsylvania online therapy with Makin Wellness. We serve the Greater Pittsburgh, PA area, the Philidelphia, PA region, and the entire state of Pennsylvania. To learn more about how we can help you, start your healing journey now.

Picture of Sara Makin MSEd, LPC, NCC

Sara Makin MSEd, LPC, NCC

All articles are written in conjunction with the Makin Wellness research team. The content on this page is not a replacement for professional diagnosis, treatment, or informed advice. It is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional before making any decisions or taking action. Please refer to our terms of use for further details.

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