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Self Care and Childhood Trauma

“I have some issues with my past self but she was young and I forgive her.”


Self-care is more than a fad or the latest trend on social media. Self-care is pivotal to healing and has a specific therapeutic function for people recovering from childhood and other traumas.

Trauma is a person’s emotional, psychological, or physical response to a distressing experience. When undergoing trauma healing, it is crucial to practice self-care. Trauma can include verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.

Some people may believe that self-care is a luxury and not vital when recovering from trauma. However, it is a critical part of the overall trauma healing process.

Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in caring for and protecting your well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. It is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve your mental, emotional and physical health.

WHO defines self-care as 'the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider'.

According to Everyday Health, self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself so you can stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well. Its benefits include better physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being.

Research suggests self-care promotes positive health outcomes, such as fostering resilience, living longer, and becoming better equipped to manage stress and other challenges of life.

How does self-care help with recovery from childhood trauma?

People that have experienced trauma have a low tolerance for stress and emotional disturbance or a limited window of tolerance. The concept of Window of Tolerance was created by clinical professor of psychiatry, Dan Siegal.

According to GoodTherapy, a window of tolerance is a term used to describe the zone of arousal in which a person is able to function most effectively.

When people are within this zone, they are typically able to readily receive, process, and integrate information and otherwise respond to the demands of everyday life without much difficulty.

When a person is within their window of tolerance, it is generally the case that the brain is functioning well and can effectively process stimuli. They are more likely to be able to reflect, think rationally, and make decisions calmly without feeling either overwhelmed or withdrawn.

In her article, The Importance of Self-Care After Trauma, Dr. Julia Hood states that during the trauma healing process it is vital you practice self-care. You can do this by doing things that feel good for you such as taking a bath, reading, watching TV, or spending time with family and friends.

Self-care includes allowing yourself to cry, rage, and express your emotions during the trauma healing process.

Dr. Julia cautions against numbing our feelings with drugs or alcohol. These substances do more harm than good during the trauma healing process. If you truly want to overcome your trauma, you must face your feelings in a safe space such as during therapy sessions, combined with the practice of self-care. Numbing yourself to your own feelings will only prolong the pain you have experienced.

Practicing self-care over time will increase your window of tolerance allowing you to access more painful experiences and progress the healing process.

To continue working to embed self-care into your life, register for my self-paced workshop, Self-care and the Inner Child here:

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