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  • Valerie Borkovich

Begin Healing Trauma Now - with these 5 Powerful Steps

Updated: Mar 4

5 POWERFUL STEPS TO ACCELERATE YOUR HEALING From Childhood Trauma

Updated: May 13


A woman staring off into the distance with tears in her eyes. She carries the scars of childhood trauma into adulthood
Healing childhood trauma takes awareness, courage, and consistency

Attempting to grow into a healthy adult after surviving childhood trauma, takes awareness, consistency, and courage. All things that I lacked for a lot of my life. I love my mom to death, but talking about hard things wasn't her strong suit. So, naturally, talking about hard things never became my strong suit either. There was no one that I felt safe or comfortable being vulnerable with. So, I retreated to an inner world of thought, and , I'd admit, to a little madness at times. I navigated my way through anger, fear, depression, anxiety, detachment, low self -worth...the best I could. I learned a lot.


In this article, we will talk about the symptoms of childhood trauma in adulthood, and 5 tips that you must include in your life to begin the journey towards healing.


The pain you hold inside from trauma needs released


If you are someone who grew up in the age of " children should be seen and not heard" or "what happens in this house stays in this house", you are destined to tread the waters of these confusing and frightening emotions on your own.


When you live in a world where the adults who should be loving and protecting you, have the inability to be vulnerable , because they are dealing with their own trauma...alone. How do you become the best version of yourself under these conditions? How do you heal from the inside out, without inflicting yourself with more pain ?



You gotta choose your pain...


Living with the effects of childhood trauma is painful and affects every area of your life. For example, you may have learned to become extremely sensitive to other people’s moods, always on edge and watching to figure out what the people around you are feeling, and how they will behave. Read 5 Powerful Ways to become more Authentic + Stop People Pleasing


Childhood trauma rips apart a child's' sense of self and stability, and often sticks with them into adulthood. They experience feelings of shame and guilt, a heightened state of anxiety, depression, anger, trouble controlling emotions, and feel disconnected and have trouble relating to others.


On the other hand, healing can be painful as well. To look at, and relive those experiences and emotions, hurts. After spending a lifetime stuffing feelings, detaching from your true self, and using unhealthy coping mechanisms ( alcohol, drugs, people pleasing ect.) to handle stress, and avoid uncomfortable emotions, it's going to take work. A-lot of work.


Fortunately, the pain of healing will be temporary. So, you need to make a decision...living with a lifetime of pain and in-authenticity...or facing your fears and some painful emotions ,temporarily , in order to heal , change your limiting beliefs, and live your most authentic life.


You can't heal what you can't feel


You can't heal what you can't feel. These words were spoken to me years ago....and I've found out how very true they are. I wasn't very good at heeding warnings, or accepting advice from others. I needed a few more years of experience ( pain) in order to fully understand. And even now, occasionally, I forget the pain...and need a reminder.


During those years, I did my fair share of filling the void. From drugs and alcohol...I mean A LOT of drugs... to toxic relationships, obsessive cleaning rituals, people pleasing, and everything in between.... anything to feel something...or feel nothing...I couldn't really tell the difference anymore.


It's taken me many years of one step forward...ten steps back...to release some of the emotional baggage that I had been carrying. To insist that deep self -care be my priority. With a little effort and a-lot of consistency, you too can begin to loosen the chains of pain holding you down.



What is childhood trauma?


Childhood trauma, as described by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, is when a child feels intensely threatened by an event he or she is involved in or witnesses. Childhood trauma can result from anything that disrupts a child's sense of safety and security including but not limited to:


  • an unsafe environment

  • serious illness

  • an accident

  • bullying

  • separation from a parent

  • neglect

  • physical, verbal or sexual abuse

  • community violence


Unresolved childhood trauma creates a sense of fear and helplessness that carries over into adulthood.

Because of the complex nature of trauma, it would make sense that we respond to trauma in different ways.


Emotional and Psychological symptoms of trauma


  • confusion, difficulty concentrating

  • anger, irritability, mood swings

  • fear and anxiety

  • shame and guilt

  • withdrawing from others

  • feelings of sadness and hopelessness

  • detachment; feeling numb or disconnected


Physical symptoms of trauma


  • Fatigue

  • racing heartbeat

  • aches and pains

  • edginess or agitation

  • insomnia or nightmares


I've lived with, what feels like an exaggerated version of all of these symptoms, for as long as I can remember. It was just who I was. I was hyper-aware of how fucked up I really was too! Which only made my anxiety worse!


I remember wanting desperately to have authentic ,real relationships with others, without the cloak of fear surrounding me at all times. It felt like this invisible barrier between myself and others that was just permanently attached to me.


Or maybe it wasn't so invisible...

I'm sure if I could feel that barrier, others could too! And that was the energy that I was putting out into the universe. I felt disconnected from my heart...from my emotions.


So, as desperately as I wanted close, authentic relationships, I was repelling the very thing that I desired. Can anyone relate?


The first step for me , on my journey toward healing trauma, was to recognize and internalize that I could change! I had spent a lifetime searching for a quick "fix" for myself. I'm sure you already know though....there are no quick fixes.


But healing is possible...


Disclaimer: Always consult with your physician or a trusted medical professional for your healthcare needs. I am not a doctor. Any tips or suggestions that I give are from my own experience and what worked for me. If you feel like you are experiencing Post-traumatic stress disorder, please seek help from a medical professional. You can read my full disclaimer here.


Consistency is key


This list isn't all inclusive. Because recovery is a personal journey, and no path to healing from trauma looks the same, you'll find that some things work better for you than others. But when you find something that does...run with it and never give up!

You'll find that the common thread that runs through all of these is consistency. Consistency is the key to experiencing results.


So, with nothing further, here are 5 actions steps that you can take today to begin healing from trauma.









5 Actions Steps To Take Today - To Begin Healing from Childhood Trauma


1. Don't Isolate


As trauma survivors, your natural response is safety and self preservation. You may want to withdraw from others. Isolation only makes things worse and compounds feelings of fear. Although a certain amount of alone time is needed for deep self care, connecting with others helps you to grow and heal. Make an effort to maintain relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.


*Ask for support


Having a few friends, family members, or even a trusted counselor in your corner will do so much for your healing process. While you don't have to talk directly about the traumatic event , it's important to be able to share your feelings with others , and process your emotions in a judgement free environment.


*Join a support group for trauma survivors


Connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences and are experiencing those same emotions can help reduce feelings of isolation. Listening to others share their stories and what has helped in their recovery, can inspire and give you a sense of hope.


*Volunteer


I hated hearing " get out of yourself and go help somebody"! I had a few friends that would remind me of this all too often when I was stuck in my head and full of emotions that weren't serving me.

But I tell you...truer words were never spoken.

Giving back and helping others can do wonders for your self-esteem and your journey towards healing. Not only does it take your thoughts off of your own problems, but helps you reclaim your sense of power by helping others.


*Reconnect with old friends


If you have withdrawn from people that were once important to you, make an effort to re-establish those relationships.


2. Get Moving


Over time, emotions become trapped in our bodies. Exercise and movement can help repair your nervous system. You will burn off adrenaline and release endorphins, taking your body from a state of fear and hyper-arousal to a sense of calm and well-being.


  • Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise on most days

  • Add an element of mindfulness

-As your moving, pay attention to the way your body feels...the pressure of your feet

pounding the concrete...the wind moving through your hair and the sun on your face...the rhythm of your arms swaying back and forth...the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe in and out.


-Pick a color. As you're walking, make note of everything you see that is the color you've chosen. This will help ground you in the present, and keep your mind from wandering and getting lost in thought.



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3. Mindfulness


Mindfulness is defined as - a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment.

The anxiety associated with trauma , can oftentimes cause you to feel powerless and out of control.

It's important to know that you can change your arousal system and re-establish a sense of calm.



-Mindful breathing


There are many different mindfulness techniques and exercises that are very effective when dealing with stress, anxiety, or anger. One very simple exercise that works really well for me is to:

*take a deep breath in through your nose ( approx. 3 seconds)

*hold the breath for 3 seconds

*slowly exhale through pursed lips for 4 seconds


Don't you feel better already?? Do this 10 times or as long as it takes to calm yourself and return your body back to it's natural equilibrium.


Give yourself permission to feel what you're feeling. As painful emotions arise, accept them for what they are , and allow them to wash through you. Lean into it. If the emotion that you're feeling is causing a physical sensation ( heaviness in your chest, or the pit of your stomach) feel into that sensation. put all of your focus on that area and watch how the feeling begins to dissipate.


It's been helpful for me to imagine those emotions like waves in the ocean; allow them to wash in, and then back out again. Know that you are safe and that feelings don't last. YOU ARE OK!


- Grounding


Grounding is type of coping skill used to immediately ground you in the present moment. It is used often as a way of coping with flashbacks or dissociation resulting from PTSD.

Grounding techniques make use of the 5 senses -to quickly reconnect you with the present.

One example of a grounding exercise is to run your hands under warm running water. Pay attention to the way the water feels on your skin. Make note of the different sensations you're feeling.



4. Journaling


I can't express enough how helpful journaling has been in my healing process over the years. Especially during those times when I felt especially alone, and didn't feel like I could trust anyone enough to share my feelings. I became a master at getting people to talk about themselves. I became a great listener while deflecting the attention from myself.


Journaling has been such an incredible creative outlet for me over the years. To be able to take all of that fear, overwhelm, and pain out of my mind and put it down on paper, has become one of my greatest coping skills. It's an incredible way to understand what you are feeling and release it. It's also been enlightening to be able to look back through those journal entries and see how far you have come. Many times, we don't feel like we've changed , or made any progress. Looking back allows you to see how much you have persevered and how far you've come, and leaves you with a sense of empowerment.


5. Physical Health


Taking care of our physical bodies goes hand in hand with our mental and emotional well-being. Ask yourself these questions:


  • Do I feel rested and restored when I wake up in the morning?

  • How long after waking do I eat my first meal?

  • How do I feel before/after I eat?

  • How many glasses of water do I drink daily?

  • Do I spend any time during the day moving to the extent that I break a sweat or my heart rate increases? If so, how much?

  • Do I experience any aches, pain, or stiffness?

  • When was the last time I was seen by a physician or health care provider?

After answering these questions, you should have a good idea what areas you need improvement in.


-Sleep


It's extremely common for people experiencing trauma, PTSD, or high levels of stress to experience insomnia or sleep disorders. Getting a good nights sleep, could be one of the most important factors in healing from stress and trauma. Sleep deprivation causes you to experience life as more of a threat.

Research has shown that sleep deprivation directly impacts the amygdala. The amygdala is the part of our brain that controls many of our immediate emotional reactions. When short on sleep, the amygdala goes into overdrive, causing us to react more intensely to situations. You can read more about the connection between lack of sleep and brain/emotional health here.



To wind down at night, and prepare yourself for a good nights sleep:

  • Take a warm bath or shower an hour or 2 before bed

  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark

  • Create a calm environment by de-cluttering and reserving your bedroom for sleep and sex only

  • Don't consume caffeine or alcohol late in the day

  • Try to sleep and wake at the same time each day

  • Reduce blue light exposure in the evening (stop scrolling)

  • Take a Melatonin supplement

If you're still having trouble falling or staying asleep after trying these tips, consult your physician. You may need medical intervention.


- Healthy Diet


Feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed, makes it more likely that we will seek out " comfort foods"-high carbohydrate, sugar laden, or salty foods.


Oftentimes when we are in a high arousal state, we tend to skip meals altogether.


Research has shown that simply eating breakfast within 2 hours of waking, can significantly improve mood and mental function by keeping blood sugar levels regulated.


Take baby steps. Start by just changing one thing...swapping sugary drinks for water...eating breakfast...not using added salt...

You won't believe how much better you start to feel so quickly!

  • eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day

  • add in plenty of fruits and vegetables(Dark green leafy veg. in particular are great for brain health, as well as nuts, seeds and legumes)

  • include foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids( walnuts, fish, chia seeds)

  • Drink lots of water. Half of your body weight in ounces is recommended ( for example, if you weigh 150lbs shoot for 75 oz of H2O)

  • Supplements are a great way to fill in the nutritional gaps that you're not receiving in your diet. Omega-3's, B vitamins, Vitamin D, Magnesium, and amino acid supplements have all been shown to assist in mood regulation.

Make a commitment to yourself!! You-Are-Worth-It!!!


- Exercise


I talk more in depth about this in tip #2


- Body Work


Any technique involving touch, massage, manipulation, and/or energetic principles for the improvement or restoration of health. The common belief surrounding these healing modalities is that there is stuck energy and trauma in our bodies that indirectly cause disease. By releasing these blocks, the body can physically and/or emotionally return back to a state of health.



Some examples of treatments that fall under the umbrella of body work are:


  • Acupuncture

  • Cupping

  • Reiki

  • Massage

  • Somatic Touch Therapy

I've fallen off the wagon a bit at times in my life where it comes to investing in myself. Times where deep self care was something that I "will start tomorrow". But what I can tell you, is that those periods that I did make myself a priority, and consistently got massages, cupping, myofascial release, acupuncture, I could feel the difference! I was calmer, more present, grounded...at peace.


-Regular visits to your Health care provider


Last but certainly not least, you make regular visits to your healthcare providers. If you are anything like me, taking time out of my day to go to the doctor is the last thing that I want to do! But I know that the mind/body connection is a real thing!


Your physician has been trained to understand the physical body, signs and symptoms of the disease process, and what physical health looks like. Find a physician that you trust and feel comfortable with, and allow them to provide you with valuable insight into keeping your body running at an optimal level

This goes for your your mental health as well. If you have a therapist or a psychiatrist , make sure that you see them on a regular basis.


Sharing is Caring



The effects of childhood trauma run deep and wide. I truly believe that you must take a holistic approach ( body, mind, and spirit) in order to heal. I haven't reached my end-game yet...I'm still in the process. I don't even know if there is an "end-game"...or if it's just one long journey of peeling back the layers, acknowledging, accepting, and healing those parts before moving on to the piece. What I do know for sure, is that I'm better than I used to be. And I'm pretty sure that's all that matters!


Now it's your turn! I'd love to hear about your journey towards healing from trauma. Comment below and tell us if there's something that's worked especially well for you. Also, if you found this article helpful, please share with someone you feel might benefit from reading it.



Love, Light, and Happiness,

Valerie


Ready to feel happier? Want to feel more present and engaged with life? Click here to download your free guide " Boost Happiness in under 2 minutes a day"


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