Trauma, or post-traumatic stress, is described as a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems usually for a long time. It is normal to feel traumatized after being physically assaulted, but did you know that it can also affect you if you’ve ever witnessed or experienced a violent act? Think about the last time you saw something gory on the news or social media. How did your body respond to that? As a crime victim survivor, I know firsthand the ways in which anxiety from trauma can manifest into physical symptoms. I want all of us to be well, so I’ve compiled a few quirky tips to help you whenever you feel anxious or triggered.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly. Now place your hands on your belly. Focus on raising your stomach as you inhale. Lower it as you exhale. Try to keep a smile on your face. Imagine that you’re doing this in front of a bunch of unimpressed middle schoolers. They’ll be laughing at you so you might as well laugh at yourself too.
Trauma has a way of stitching your mouth closed and making you forget the funny. If you need something to laugh at, go watch reruns of Sanford and Son on YouTube. I am convinced that the rapper T.I. is Fred Sanford reincarnated, and I crack up just thinking about the latter rapping to Rubberband Man. If that doesn’t do it for you, go to your nearest laundromat. I’ll bet you a quarter that some character will show up smelling like Tide and Black & Milds.
3. Cuss (Curse)
I believe that there are magical curse words just waiting to be released. Let them out! Massage them with your tongue. Give yourself permission to combine words. Don’t be afraid to mix sounds or languages. My grandmama was the Queen of Cussing. She was so gangsta, she replaced the “th” in motherfucker with a G. Like, “You crazy mugafuker.” Sometimes proclaiming, “This is some Bullshit!” is enough to get your bowels moving — and we know how much being traumatized can mess up your digestion.
I would recommend going out into nature and yelling at the sky, but you might disturb people who are trying to do yoga. So if you own a car, roll up all the windows and scream like you are at a Beyonce concert. It sounds crazy, but it really works. If you don’t own a car, step inside a closet and work those lungs.
Give yourself permission to weep. Let your tears take their time. Don’t try to rush them. Do not apologize. They are perfect.
It’s important to document your feelings so that you can one day look back and see how far you’ve come. List all the ways that you are hurting. Include all of the people and circumstances that may have caused you pain. Write a letter to your “enemy.” Write a love letter to yourself. Write a prayer to God. Just Write. Don’t even worry about grammar.
7. Take A Nap
Do you remember being forced to take naps in preschool? What a luxury?! If you can charge your phone and laptop for hours throughout the day, you can certainly give yourself at least twenty minutes. Step away from the screen and close your eyes. Think about your favorite color and/or all of things that make you happy. If you can’t think of anything, that’s ok too. Just rest.
8. Repeat steps 1-7 and Share.