Dealing with Trauma One Step at a Time

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Overcoming trauma is a scary endeavor. When you’re getting treatment and learning how to deal with triggers from trauma, it can feel like peace and healing are out of reach. While the road to recovery from trauma will have its ups and downs, it’s much better than letting the memories of trauma control your life.

If you’re ready to put intrusive memories, avoidance, hypervigilance and all the other side effects of trauma where they belong — in the past — then it’s time to face the trauma. Here’s how.

Dealing with Trauma

Trauma and the way it affects people are always complex. The way you learn how to deal with trauma has a lot to do with the nature of the trauma, your support system, your mental wellness, your environment and your personal resiliency. However, there are some tips and tricks that can be helpful across the board.

The first step in learning how to deal with trauma triggers is to seek professional help. While this article can act as a guide to supplement your treatment, it should not replace the individualized assistance you’ll receive from a therapist who knows your situation.

Once you’ve gotten connected with mental health treatment, here are some tools to add to your repertoire when you’re working to overcome trauma.

  1. Educate yourself on trauma

The more you know about trauma, the more it will normalize your reactions. While some people are able to move past terrible events swiftly, you’re not alone in experiencing the symptoms of traumatic stress. 

Familiarizing yourself with the side effects of post-traumatic stress disorder can help you reflect on the way trauma has impacted your mind and your behavior. When you know how trauma is disrupting your daily functioning, you’ll be much more equipped to address those areas.

You can also narrow your focus when learning about trauma. Search for books and articles on childhood trauma, PTSD after combat or overcoming sexual assualt. You may find comfort knowing you’re not alone in your battle to conquer certain experiences.

  1. Identify your symptoms

Trauma always shows itself. Whether the manifestations of horrific events happen internally or externally, there will be signs that trauma is affecting the way you live your life. Here are some common symptoms of trauma:

  • Recurring memories of the event
  • Nightmares
  • Emotional distress in the face of intrusive memories
  • Avoiding people, places and things that remind you of the event
  • A negative self-perception
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling guilt or shame
  • Feeling unsafe, on-edge, restless or jittery
  • Always looking around or being on guard
  • Having trouble feeling happy, even in positive moments
  • Not having an interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling numb
  • Memory issues
  • Trouble focusing
  • Having trouble maintaining relationships
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Irritability or anger
  • Shaking or sweating when thinking about the event
  • Erratic behavior
  • Not wanting to be around others

These symptoms of trauma and others not listed here can have a massive impact, but knowing your own reactions to trauma is necessary to move past it.

  1. Identify your triggers

One of the best action steps you can take to heal from traumatic stress is to learn how to deal with triggers from trauma, which of course can’t happen until you identify those triggers. Often, people feel that ignoring triggers will make them disappear, but naming them and confronting them is what will really brings you closer to recovery.

Identifying triggers has to come after you identify your symptoms because that’s the order they’ll chronologically play out, and often symptoms are easier to see. When you know the manifestations of trauma in your life, every time you experience one, you’ll need to backtrack to see what the stimulus for that behavior was.

For example, if one of your common symptoms is flashbacks to a car accident, you’ll want to consider what change in your environment brought up that mental image. Did you smell gasoline? Did you drive past the place where it happened? Did you think of a friend that was with you during the accident?

Tracing your behaviors and thoughts back to where they started can help in dealing with trauma triggers.

  1. Find coping strategies that work for you

Dealing with trauma triggers requires you to have a toolbox of coping strategies you can use in the face of distress. Coping strategies include anything from breathing exercises to positive self-talk. Essentially, these are tools you can use in the heat of the moment to bring yourself back to a baseline state.

As time goes on, these strategies will become second nature until you don’t need them at all. Cultivate two or three effective methods to calm yourself down in a variety of situations. This will propel you into recovery from trauma quickly.

  1. Invest in self-care

While coping strategies are necessary in the moment, you can think of self-care as a preventative measure to traumatic stress. When you’re taking care of your mind and body, you’ll have fewer symptoms and when they do pop up, they’ll be less intense.

Build a self-care routine by adding one enjoyable activity at a time. There are endless ways to take care of yourself, but be sure to find hobbies that suit your schedule, your personality and your resources. If self-care requires money, time or energy you don’t have, try something different. 

Dealing with trauma

When you’re on the journey of overcoming trauma, the strategies that work for you will be completely unique. So while these steps can help, you’ll want a professional on your team to help them play out effectively.


At High Focus Centers, you can access the aid you need to heal from trauma. Licensed and certified therapists will treat you with compassion and help you unfold your trauma history with compassion and understanding. Call today to schedule an appointment.