How to Recognize Past Trauma and Its Impact on Your Life
The last few years have seen an explosion in the use of words like PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and trauma in our vernacular. This is due in large part to increased awareness and activism around the lasting psychological effects of war on veterans. However, the way we view trauma has recently expanded from a military-specific context to include the long-term impact of any stressful or disturbing event. Trauma can be caused by accidents, abuse, neglect, the death of a loved one, and many other distressing events.
Trauma can be difficult to recognize because it manifests differently for everyone. It often goes hand-in-hand with other mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. Talk with friends and family you trust about your own challenges or areas in which they think you could improve. Think about areas of life you struggle with to begin the process. Difficulty maintaining positive relationships, feeling depressed for no apparent reason or listlessness might be indications of past trauma. If you think or know of traumatic events in your past, here are a few ideas to help you overcome and heal from your trauma:
- Recognize the Signs: The first step in dealing with any form of illness or disorder is recognizing your specific triggers and symptoms. Feelings of isolation, reckless behavior, disturbed sleep, and emotions that seem extreme or unpredictable are all potential indicators of trauma. Don’t minimize or dismiss such feelings or behaviors. It’s better to explore them and their potential causes to make sure you address them in the best way.
- Develop Coping Mechanisms: Strategies such as mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, talking with friends or family, or spending time in nature can help when you’re feeling triggered or experiencing negative emotions. Do some research on tools for managing traumatic stress and try them out until you find ones that work the best for you.
- Get Help – Healing from trauma can be painful and overwhelming. If you’re having a hard time dealing with past trauma, psychotherapy can be crucial to helping you address, manage, and heal your trauma. Remember that, like coping mechanisms, not every therapist will be a good fit for you. If necessary, it’s important to try out multiple therapists to find someone who aligns with your goals and treatment needs. You may also find good counsel with a religious leader or mentor in your life.
The Institute of Youth Development and Excellence (IYDE) strives for every youth in the world to have access to a trained mentor because of the impact they can have on a child’s life. Our mission is to provide mentors in every community across the United States with the tools and training for successful and meaningful relationships with their mentees. Placing trained mentors in the lives of youths impacts critical life decisions and can help them overcome past trauma. Adults who are dealing with past trauma in their own lives can also make a vital impact in the life of a child by becoming a mentor and helping children avoid traumatic situations or deal with their own trauma. Help us make a difference in the lives of children by becoming a trained mentor, joining us as a volunteer, or donating to our cause today!