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  • Writer's pictureDominic Schmuck, Ph.D.

The Power of Self-Care in Healing from Relationship Trauma

Updated: Apr 18

Happy woman

If you're dealing with relationship trauma caused by someone close to you, like a partner, family member, friend, or colleague, self-care can be a powerful tool in healing. Relationship trauma can arise from ongoing or past experiences of abusive or hurtful behavior in a close relationship, and it can come in different forms like physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, betrayal, and abandonment. The effects of relationship trauma can be long-lasting and deep, leading to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and difficulty trusting others.

It's essential to know that how you responded or are responding to the trauma was likely an adaptive way to protect yourself from further harm. These same responses may not be helpful in current relationships with people who aren't abusive. Taking the time you need to heal is okay, and there are people and resources available to help you. Remember, it's not your fault that you're experiencing this pain, and you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

Self-care can help you break free from relationship trauma by setting healthy boundaries, rebuilding trust in yourself and others, and managing the overwhelming emotions that come with trauma. Boundaries are a way of protecting yourself and establishing what you are and are not willing to tolerate in a relationship. Rebuilding trust in yourself means listening to your adaptive instincts and recognizing when something doesn't appear right. This process can be guided by a therapist or counselor who specializes in trauma recovery. Managing the intense emotions that come with trauma is also crucial. Many find it helpful to talk to a trusted and safe friend, engage in physical activity, practice mindfulness, and seek professional help. Below are more self-care tips.

Helpful Self-Care Tips when Healing from Relationship Trauma

  1. Find a comforting space: Look for a place that makes you feel comfortable and safe. It could be a quiet room, a favorite outdoor spot, or something else that helps you feel calm and at ease.

  2. Connect with supportive people: Reach out to people who care about you and can provide a listening ear. You might talk to family, friends, or join a support group to share your experiences and find understanding.

  3. Practice relaxation techniques: Trauma can cause physical and emotional tension, so it's important to practice relaxation techniques to help you unwind. You can try deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga to release physical tension and ease your mind.

  4. Take care of your body: Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can help you feel better both physically and emotionally. Make sure to prioritize your health and well-being as much as possible.

  5. Set boundaries: Saying no is okay (and saying no is a full sentence), and it's important to set boundaries around what you're comfortable with. You can also limit your exposure to people or situations that make you feel uneasy or stressed.

  6. Do things you enjoy: Engage in activities that bring you joy and make you feel good. You might read a book, spend time in nature, or try a new hobby to take your mind off things and relax.

  7. Seek professional help: Don't hesitate to reach out for professional support if you need it. A therapist or counselor can provide helpful tools and techniques to help you cope with relationship trauma. Remember, it's okay to ask for help.

Healing from relationship trauma takes time and effort. It's okay to take things slow and be patient with yourself. Celebrate small victories along the way and focus on the progress you're making rather than setbacks.

How Therapy can Help in Your Healing Process

Therapy can also be a powerful tool in healing from relationship trauma. Talking to a therapist who specializes in helping people heal from relationship trauma can be very beneficial. They can help you recognize patterns in your relationships and understand how past experiences may be affecting your current relationships. A therapist can also help you develop coping strategies and identify triggers that may be causing emotional distress. Therapy provides a safe and supportive environment where you can process your feelings and work towards healing and growth.

It's essential to find a therapist who makes you feel heard, understood, and safe. Look for someone who can work with you to achieve your personal goals for healing and who respects your personal boundaries. It can be challenging to find a therapist who is knowledgeable in trauma-based interventions and understands when and how to apply them. While various therapy techniques and approaches can be effective in healing from trauma symptoms, it's important to apply them at the right time and under the right circumstances when you feel safe and ready. One of the issues I often see is that some therapists apply interventions that are evidence-based for PTSD to all trauma cases or even other mental health disorders, even though such interventions are not suitable and evidence-based for all trauma and mental health issues.

At TruU Psychology, we specialize in therapy for individuals dealing with relationship issues and relationship trauma, and we make sure to create treatment that is individualized to you, your personal needs, and your goals. If you have any questions, or if you want to begin the process of healing, contact us by calling/texting (385) 200-0204 or emailing today to get started. You can also schedule a free 15 minute consult here. If no timeslot appears through the link, then we likely have a waitlist. Call/text/email instead.

I can work with clients in over 40 PSYPACT participating states.


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