Trauma and Self-Care

Understanding trauma and selecting the self-care practice that works best for you are closely related. It is important to learn why and how we experience trauma to begin to heal from it.

Trauma

Trauma is an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual or community as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects. There are several classifications of trauma. None are mutually exclusive; several types of trauma often overlap within a single or multiple incidents.

Inform readers about our Trauma 101 workshop
Attend our Trauma 101 workshop to learn more. Details on Experience BU.

A one-time event such as a fire, bike accident, assault, or tornado.

Happens repetitively, often resulting in direct harm to the individual. Effects of trauma are cumulative. The traumatic experience frequently transpires within a particular time frame or within a specific relationship, and often in a specific setting. For example, being in an abusive relationship with a partner, or a family member.

Trauma that has occurred over multiple generations of individuals within a community, creating a ripple affect that has an effect and is felt over future generations. For example, the effects of colonialism in Canada and Indigenous Genocide are still felt within and effect Canadian Indigenous communities today.

Result of direct or indirect experiences of harassment, witnessing racial violence towards others, and experiencing discrimination and institutional racism. An example is a BIPOC individual being stopped by police with unjust cause, and enduring racial profiling.

Forms during a child’s first 3 years of life. The result of abuse, neglect, and/or abandonment. Interferes with the infant or child’s neurological, cognitive, and psychological development. Disrupts the victim’s ability to attach to an adult caregiver. 

Responses to trauma have impact both physical and mental health of individuals. It is important to remember that we do not have control over how our body reacts. How we respond to trauma is related to how we respond to stress, which is mainly a biological, subconscious, and difficult to control.

Some responses to trauma can include insomnia, numbness, relationship issues, respiratory issues, and anger issues. How individuals respond to trauma is unique, and depends on many social factors, such as age, race, culture, religion, ability, etc. For more information about your body’s response to trauma, check out this reading: Common Responses to Trauma.

Restorative Justice can be an imperative part of self-care. Restorative Justice is a healing-based method that is survivor-centric and promotes sustainable community development and growth. A major facet of Restorative Justice is having your voice heard. 

The Human Rights and Equity Office and Sexual Violence and Education supports survivors that want to make Restorative Justice a part of their healing process. To learn more about how we use Restorative Justice and Transformative Justice practices with sexual violence survivors, please refer to the Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy.

For additional information and details about Restorative Justice, check out the following website: CommunityJusticeInitiatives.com

Restorative Justice Workshop main slide

Self-Care

Taking time to check-in with yourself and take care of yourself is important after experiencing trauma. Self-care can help regulate the body, bring stress levels down, and restore temporary normalcy to help you function.

Just like trauma, self-care looks different for everyone. For some individuals, self-care looks like taking time to pay bills, sleeping, or simply surviving. Some people think of self-care as taking time to colour, watch a movie, or spend time with family. There is no wrong or right way to practice self-care, what matters is doing what works best for you.

Take a look at the resources below to for self-care and healing inspiration. You can also visit our Heal page for Healing from racial injustice. It’s okay if none of the resources work for you, please reach out to Lairsa or our HRE Team for more resources and guidance.

Six ways to practice grounding

Self-care is taking the time for yourself and tending to your needs. Self-care is an individual process and will look different for different people. It is important to note that for some, self-care may be pure survival or self-preservation.

Below are some helpful links to get you started exploring how to create and maintain a self-care plan. Please remember that it is okay if none of the methods in these resources work for you, and if you want help with self-care you can always reach out to us!

A large part of self-care and healing for many is learning how to set boundaries. Setting boundaries takes time and practice. It’s important to remember, while the majority of the literature below discusses boundaries in romantic relationships, the same applies to all other forms of relationships. Take a look at the resources below for guidance, or feel free to ask Larisa, the HRE Team, or the P2P Team for advice on boundary setting.

Mindfulness and self-regulation are tools that helps us manage our stress. They are useful because it allows us to slow down and check-in with our mental and physical well-being, to see how things are going or lining up. To learn much more and experience all of the following, consider attending our Self-Care Workshop, a workshop in our Sexual Violence Certificate Series.

  • Mindfulness is the act of being present in your body without judgement. It can be done anywhere at any time, and is a helpful tool when attempting to self-regulate, release stress, and heal. Check out the resources below to try practicing mindfulness:
  • Body scans and somatic intervention are typically used to help people learn how to engage in self-regulation. Performing a body-scan actively encourages you to direct your thoughts towards different parts of your body. Somatic intervention is an in-depth version of a body scan, that uses checking-in with the body as an active tool for stress and tension relief. Try these resources to engage in body scans, and learn more about somatic intervention:

Following inspirational and calming posts on social media can be an excellent way to brighten your day, while helping you feel at ease. We have a few account suggestions below, please let us know if we should add any to our list!

Looking for something to do? Check out Brock HRE’s colouring book, which features images, activities, and educational information. Our colouring book is free to download.

Ryerson University’s Consent Comes First: The Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education (2018) also has excellent colouring books for survivors and supporters. They’re also free to download.

 

Procrastination is a problem that many students face. Feeling motivated to work can be difficult, especially while stressed because of trauma. Take a look at the resources below to try overcoming your procrastination problems:

An art-based support group run by the Sexual Violence Support and Education Coordinator. This 8-week closed group offers two-hour sessions focusing on self-care, regulation and support through artistic expression and psychoeducation for individuals who have had an experience with sexual violence (current, or past). 

If you are interested or would like to find out more information, please contact Larisa at svsec@brocku.ca 

Poster for finding calm after the storm