The effects of trauma can be complex and far-reaching, and no two responses to trauma are exactly alike. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is generally defined as an overwhelming, life-altering experience that can cause ongoing pain and distress, and sometimes results in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). Because trauma response can be unique to each individual, self-care strategies for managing trauma symptoms are an integral part of any recovery program.
"Self-care is vital to trauma survivors because, by the nature of trauma, a person's neurological system is [...] on alert in fight or flight mode," Andrea Schneider, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in San Dimas, California, tells Bustle via email. "Engaging in activities that lower that physiological adrenal surge from trauma can literally be life-saving," Schneider says. When survivors are able to "reprocess and release the trauma(s)," Schneider says, recovery and healing become possible. In addition to helping with physical recovery from trauma, self-care also helps survivors encompass "the spiritual, physical, social, and emotional facets of healing. It's one of the pillars [of recovery]," Schneider further notes.
Developing good self-care habits can be a deeply empowering experience for trauma survivors. In the aftermath of a traumatic experience, good self-care strategies can make a major difference in how well we recover. Here are some strategies to consider, according to experts.