Let’s talk about Self-Care - something widely spoken about and everyone 'self-cares’ in their own unique way. But as a trauma survivor it is a very challenging journey and self-care can be the hardest thing to do when you can often feel very low and lost. But, being a trauma survivor is also empowering. Trauma acts as the catalyst for us to learn how to better engage in self-care and introduces us to endless modalities for healing and expressing ourselves, enabling us to channel our crisis into our transformation. Most importantly, it gives us access to connect with other survivors who have been where we are- exactly why I am Arla was born!
First let's look at the definition, 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).
The effects of trauma can be complex and far-reaching, with no two responses to trauma exactly alike. Due to the trauma response to each individual being so unique, self-care strategies for managing trauma symptoms are an integral part of any recovery program. Developing good self-care habits is an incredibly empowering experience for trauma survivors as it can help you feel in control of something that was once very much the opposite. We would love to know what works for you so please do join or start a discussion in one of our forums to share tips and notes for what works and what doesn’t. I learnt my coping mechanisms through trying so many different things and speaking to others about what worked for them. Always remember, sharing in our community is a safe place and the best way to support and uplift one and other.
1. Calm your mind- listen to your breathe. Meditation
Meditation is difficult at the best of times, and can be one of the hardest strategies for anyone who has experienced trauma, so please don’t worry if this takes a good while (sometimes a very long time) to accomplish! Taking small steps each day - little by little can help you. It is sighted as a very helpful self-care method as traumatic events can alter the brain changes that interfere with "learning, memory, impulse control, and emotional regulation, and a meditation practice can help heal the areas of the brain most affected by traumatic experiences.
2. Be at one with your body- Yoga and pilates
A powerful and proven method to calm the body and mind- the benefits are plenty. Not only does it calm the nervous system through practicing your breathing techniques (yes, there is a technique to breathing!), it can teach yourself to be kinder with your body through moving in a gentle way (when struggling to get between poses). It can reveal your body’s habits for holding stress and pain and allows you to bring yourself back to your body. This is something we tend to shy away from when healing from trauma. Pilates uses the same breathing techniques to guide you through perfect balance, form, technique and posture and gives you incredible core stability!
Our team recommends to try out @jessicamaypilates
3. Food and your diet
The important role of diet in helping managing anxiety can not be underestimated- considering that 95% serotonin (the happy hormones) receptors are found in the lining of the gut. The Health Harvard blog (tiny.cc/g3v5nz)- which is an incredible read, recommends a few of the following foods as part of your anti-anxiety diet:
Magnesium (leafy greens, spinach & swiss chard)
Zinc (egg yolks & cashews)
Omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish like salmon)
Why not head on over and get some inspiration from some incredible women cooking up a storm on instagram. These ladies are proud members of I am Arla- and we will be sharing their story with you soon.
Most certainly under-rated and one of the most powerful healing tools. However, when suffering from anxiety this is often a double edged sword- as sleep is the most challenging when feeling anxious. However, there are a few steps you can try to establishing a healthy sleep cycle. Do not use your phone right before bed, and try and switch it off an hour before and there are some interventions like melatonin supplements than help - but please check with your doctor or pharmacist before.
5. Movement and Exercise
Known to improve sleep, overall health and decrease anxiety and depression, it really does help. Not only that, joining classes or groups can actually be life changing. One I am Arla's founders stepped into a fitness class for the first time after surviving domestic abuse and it truly changed her life ‘I met some incredible friends and my now husband and let’s not forget that the reason for starting exercise may well be the exact reason to why somebody else was signing up to begin their fitness journey’
6. Keep a journal
Journaling can be helpful in so many ways. From logging your thoughts day to day, to helping you see patterns or trigger points- to also helping you see the success you are making! Why not try writing down at least 3 things you love about yourself every night in your journal- then every morning, read it as soon as you wake up and repeat over and over again. Not only does this create a habit of positive affirmations in the morning- if you say it with a smile, you are proven to feel even a smidge happier.
7. Safe community & social support
First of all, healing is a vulnerable process to don’t ever feel bad for limiting your exposure to invalidating or unsupportive people. However, make sure you have at least one person who knows what you are going through, and can be there for you when times get tough. We know too well the beauty of support groups and sharing a journey with women like us - so we launched @iam.arla
There are also other support groups out there and if you feel you are in immediate danger and not feeling safe please do refer to the following links: