Rising Above the Hurricane: Overcoming Trauma and Emotional Healing

Emotional trauma can be one of the most devastating experiences we go through in our lives. It weighs heavily on us.

The painful feelings linger long after the experience itself has passed. Even though it may seem difficult to regain control and rise above this type of suffering, with dedication and effort it is possible to find healing.

In this post, we will talk about how traumatic events shape our emotional response and provide practical strategies for managing these experiences so that you no longer have to suffer from them. No matter where you are in your journey towards feeling emotionally whole again, know that there is hope, but also know that trauma is difficult. It will be a hard, but worthwhile experience.

Understanding Trauma and Its Effects on Emotional Responses

Trauma can leave an indelible mark on someone’s life. It’s important to understand that the effects of trauma heavily impact our emotional development. Trauma can shape one’s thinking and impact their ability to regulate their emotions. This can be particularly true when the trauma is experienced in one’s formative years.

Trauma experienced during childhood can lead to long-lasting effects on emotional and behavioral responses in adulthood. With an understanding of trauma and its effects on emotional responses, individuals can begin to recognize and cope with the impact of trauma on their own lives and the lives of others.

Trauma heightens negative emotions. It’s common to feel like you can’t control how you’re feeling, or that your emotions don’t make sense. It’s important to show yourself some compassion here; trauma ignites our fear response and causes panic. It’s natural to feel out of whack.

“There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel, or respond, so don’t judge your own reactions or those of other people. Your responses are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events.” –Robinson, Smith, and Segal for HelpGuide.org

Because trauma is so intensely personal, emotional responses vary. Traumatic events are stressful in all cases, but different people will respond differently. Below are some various emotional responses you could have to trauma from HelpGuide.org:

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief.
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating.
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings.
  • Anxiety and fear.
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame.
  • Withdrawing from others.
  • Feeling sad or hopeless.
  • Feeling disconnected or numb.

You could experience all of these or only some. Every person’s life and experiences are different, so our minds are different, and thus, our reactions.

Nurture Your Mind, Body, and Soul

It’s important to take care of all aspects of ourselves. Traumatic experiences are extremely disruptive and can throw off our routines. Whether it’s a natural disaster, which would physically prevent you from doing the same things, or a psychological stressor, which gives you a mental block, it’s very difficult to stick to healthy routines in times of crisis.

Unfortunately, that fact makes it all the more important to try our hardest to be healthy and practice self-care when trauma rears its head. It’s very tempting to use avoidant strategies for coping. The thoughts can be very overwhelming and the stress very severe. It’s tempting to reach for a substance to help you cope.

“While healing from trauma, it might be incredibly tempting to drink or do drugs. Because recreational substances are addictive and help your brain stop thinking and feeling, this is not the right time for them.” –Ariane Resnick for VeryWellMind

That temporary relief from blanking out your mind only makes later anxiety worse. You’re not processing your feelings, you’re just pushing them down. This is understandable, but not the path forward for healing. Working through your feelings with the help of others is how we heal from trauma.

As hard as it is to prioritize, taking care of your physical and emotional health is even more important after a traumatic event. Your feelings and moods are out of whack; any little bit of stability you can hold onto with your routines and habits will aid you on the road to recovery.

Connecting With People Who Understand Your Struggles

Asking for help is hard. It can be even harder after a traumatic event. The cruel thing about trauma is that it both requires other people to overcome and also makes you not want to reach out. As tempting as isolation is, don’t give in. It’s important to talk about your experiences.

Feeling isolated is one of the toughest experiences a person can face. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and even physical illness. But there’s good news: you don’t have to go through tough times alone. Connecting with others who have been through similar struggles can be incredibly therapeutic. Trauma, unfortunately, is common. We can all benefit from sharing our struggles and building support systems.

Of course, talking about your experiences too soon may not be comfortable for you. That’s okay, too. Any social interaction helps a little bit. It reminds you that the world is still moving and that when you’re ready, you could have someone to open up to.

“While you shouldn’t hesitate to open up to your loved ones about traumatic stress if you feel comfortable doing so, any type of social interaction can be beneficial if you don’t discuss your trauma. In fact, spending time with people you care about might help you begin to feel more like yourself again.” –Elizabeth Keohan for Talkspace

You can’t beat trauma alone. While there’s a lot you can do to help mitigate its worst effects, trauma is too big for any one person to handle alone. Trauma is overwhelming by its nature; that’s what makes it so unique and destructive. It’s too big for our brains to handle by themselves. To move beyond, we need community.

The temptation to isolate is one of the key signatures of trauma. Because the world is so overwhelming and scary, you want to self-isolate. You want to prevent yourself from experiencing that same trauma and being hurt again. But, unfortunately, vulnerability is the only way to heal. By sharing your uncomfortable feelings, you do risk rejection or hurt. The potential reward, however, is the human connection that is key to healing.

We don’t all have these sorts of connections, though, and that makes emotional trauma that much harder. Try finding support groups online for trauma survivors, or call a support hotline. Any little bit of effort you make to avoid isolating yourself is a great help to help heal from your traumatic experience.

Learning Self-Care Practices and Techniques

Trauma throws our nervous system into overdrive. Flashes of panic and anxiety are common. Our bodies are preparing for another trauma, and so keep us either in a heightened state of awareness or closed-off isolation. We can apply a few techniques to short-circuit our panicking nervous system and try to calm down.

Mindful Breathing

Breathing techniques are simple but powerful. For starters, try inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for six. As you do this, focus on your breath. Try to be mindful of where the air is flowing through you and what it feels like as it enters and exits your body. Take a minute out of your day to just focus on your breath when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Grounding Techniques

Trauma can feel all-consuming because of its vividness in our minds. Grounding techniques are an effective way to bring yourself back from the edge of a flashback or panic attack.

One grounding technique is to look around and name five things in your environment that you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This is usually called the 5-4-3-2-1 Method. This is useful for interrupting your racing thoughts and locating you back in your body and physical space. This is where the name “grounding” comes from.

Healthline.com has a list of 30 grounding techniques that you might find useful. Try some out and see what works for you.


Writing down your thoughts can help you process and express your feelings. It’s a great outlet for working through difficult emotions and managing stress. Writing doesn’t have to be perfect or even make sense; it just has to give you some relief from what feels like an overwhelming emotional load. Just writing your stream-of-consciousness thoughts can be enormously helpful for getting things out of your brain.

Finding Professional Help When Necessary

Seeking support from a trained therapist can make a world of difference when struggling with post-traumatic stress if you have the means to do so. A therapist can help you work through the feelings and thoughts that have been stirred up by the traumatic event in a way no blog post can. A trauma therapist can help manage emotional trauma by tailoring advice to you and your specific experiences.

If you’re not able to find a therapist or don’t have the means to do so, there are still resources available. Organizations like Crisis Text Line and NAMI provide support services that you can talk to via text message or telephone call. This isn’t a substitute for a trained therapist, but it’s better than nothing. Sharing is important; keeping trauma inside just hurts you and brings you down. Sharing the burden makes life easier.

No matter what kind of help you choose, it’s important to focus on taking care of yourself during this time. Remember that healing takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight. But with patience and some hard work, you can move beyond your trauma and into a place of healing. You just need to take the first step by reaching out for help when you need it. There is no shame in that!

Vulnerability is never easy, especially after experiencing trauma. Yet allowing ourselves to experience vulnerability is the only way forward to healing. It’s the act of connection that gives us strength. Leaning on others isn’t a weakness, it’s necessary for recovery. Our emotions feed off of the energy of others; by sharing our common struggles, we bring ourselves out of the darkness and make the world feel a little less lonely.

It is important to remember that healing from emotional trauma takes time and patience. We need to remind ourselves that it is okay to not be okay, but with the right strategies and help we have hope for a better future.

Working through difficult times can be formidable, but we must take care of ourselves so we don’t feel overwhelmed. Taking steps towards healing requires courage as well as connecting with people who understand our struggles. Seeking professional guidance and learning self-care practices are invaluable.

Understanding trauma’s effects on our emotions, nurturing our minds, bodies, and souls, connecting with the right people, learning self-care techniques, and seeking professional help when necessary are all important steps we must take when overcoming emotional trauma.

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