The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
**Content Warning: This article discusses the various types of abuse and their effects. If you have experienced abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for help and resources. **
Trauma and abuse are far more common than society would like to admit. That’s because most people have a very narrow understanding of what abuse is as well as its effects on the lives of the survivors. However, abuse is a widescale problem that comes in many forms and does significant damage to the mental health of many people.
Luckily, survivors of abuse can practice some self-care that encourages emotional healing and helps them reconnect with themselves. Read on to learn more about abuse, as well as some self-care tips that foster healing from trauma.
Table of Contents
What Constitutes As Abuse?
Most people only consider physical violence as abuse. However, abuse takes many forms and always has a major impact on mental health.
Abuse is any form of behavior used to control or harm another person. Any relationship or connection can become abusive, including romantic relationships, parent-child relationships, mentor-student relationships, and boss-employee relationships. Abuse can be physical and leave obvious marks or invisible with no marks or evidence.
Some common forms of abuse include:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Financial abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Spiritual abuse
You can learn more about abuse at the following link below:
Now, let’s move on to self-care tips for healing from trauma and abuse.
Self Care Tips To Heal From Abuse
Practice Deep Breathing
Shallow breathing is often a side effect of experiencing flashbacks or panic attacks from trauma. Without awareness, the breath can deviate from its normal flow, making trauma symptoms worse. As a result, the body becomes incredibly tense, and emotions become difficult to regulate. Furthermore, not receiving enough oxygen keeps the body anxious and prevents various organs and cells from functioning properly.
Therefore, when you experience anxiety or flashbacks, utilize deep breaths to calm and ground yourself. The body does better when it has enough oxygen to function, so deep breathing will help bring it back to homeostasis. This sense of calm also helps your mental state, making it easier to regulate and heal your emotions.
There is increasing evidence that yoga may be extremely beneficial to abuse survivors. This gentle exercise helps calm the nervous system, turn off the fight or flight mode, and encourages healthy, deep breathing. All of this brings the body back to a normal and calm state.
The philosophy of yoga also naturally empathizes with abuse survivors. It encourages the awareness and release of thoughts and emotions with judgment. Furthermore, yoga offers a safe space for survivors to heal their bodies and release the emotions that plague them.
Meditation is another calming activity that can help survivors calm and process their thoughts. This activity encourages survivors to gently notice their thoughts without judgment or attachment. During this process, emotions can be seen from a more objective viewpoint and then healed or released.
Furthermore, meditation promotes the calming of these emotions as well as the body. Breathwork and yoga may be incorporated into this practice. Through this combination, the fight or flight response is turned off, and the body can come back to normal.
Utilize Positive Affirmations
Affirmations can help survivors rewire their brains to think more optimistically or calmly. When living with trauma, it can be hard to let go of the thoughts that resulted from any emotional abuse as well as any messages received from the traumatic events. For example, a survivor of physical and emotional abuse may pick up the insults of their abusers as well as the belief that they are unworthy simply because they were abused.
Saying simple statements such as “I am safe” or “I am lovable” can help heal the mind of any unhealthy thoughts that were picked up during the abuse. Once the survivor believes these affirmations, they will inevitably put more work into self-care, which only furthers their healing.
Take Care Of Your Body
Physical health is linked to mental health, so improving one will inevitably improve the other. Many studies show that eating a nutritious diet, exercising frequently, and sleeping well all contribute to good mental health.
Therefore, even though this lifestyle may not directly heal your trauma, it will prevent it from worsening. Furthermore, it is much easier to manage emotions when your body feels good and well-rested.
For optimal results, eat a nutritious diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. Limit caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and other unhealthy carbs. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day about five times per week. Finally, sleep for about seven to nine hours each night to remain well-rested.
Many survivors of abuse thrive when they pour out their emotions into a creative pursuit. Art therapy is an incredibly powerful tool that helps survivors process their experiences and traumas in a safe and healthy way.
Furthermore, art can bring survivors a sense of joy and wonder that was taken away from them because of the abuse. It helps them reconnect with themselves, which is essential for healing.
Any form of art can be healing. For example, you can utilize painting, drawing, sculpting, or woodwork. Or you can focus on the art form of writing either in the form of novels or short stories, a memoir, or even just by journaling.
But Don’t Hesitate To Ask For Help
Don’t feel that you need to heal from trauma all on your own. Asking for help is, in fact, an important form of self-care. If you need help even after practicing the tips above, then don’t hesitate to reach out to someone. This can include friends and family, a therapist, or even a resourceful hotline such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1.800.799.SAFE (7233)).
Abuse and trauma are incredibly difficult experiences to live with. There are far more survivors of abuse than people realize, simply because their definition of abuse is limited. Luckily, there are many self-care tips that survivors can utilize to further their healing. With some calming activities, a healthy lifestyle, and some positivity, survivors may be able to come back to their old selves and find healing and peace.