7 Self-Care Tips to Cope and Heal Together with #MeToo: Feel – Deal – Heal Find your Tribe, Love Them Hard.
Limited Exposure: We cannot control A LOT of things, but we can choose how we engage. It is difficult when trauma symptoms arise not to behave in impulsive ways and react in the moment. Set aside a social media time, give yourself a time limit and stick to it. Then when it is not the allotted social media time, you are on a social media break. Stick to it. Feelings fade over time, if they are not re-stimulated. Think of every time you read an article, repeat a story, engage in conversation as re-firing. It is important to talk about it, and it is important to protect yourself.
Safe People: Shame depends on you subscribing to the belief that you are alone, don’t be alone with this. Safety is greatly impacted by exposure to traumatic events. Be mindful of how you feel around certain people, if people are judging you or telling you that you are overreacting, they are not your people right now. Everyone has a different experience, and you are the only expert on your experience. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and validating. Connect with others who can relate with your experience, identification and “me too” conversations are some of the most healing and validating experiences.
Self-Care Plan: Have a plan. We often call them “coping kits” in my office. Three things you can do when you feel overwhelmed by emotions. Know what those three things are before you are overwhelmed by emotions. The tricky thing about traumatic memories is when they are activated it feels like it is happening right now, in this very moment. The part of your brain that does the thinking shuts down and you are in fight/flight/freeze. Trying to be skillful in the middle of a trauma response, is like trying to do your taxes while you are being chased by a bear. By mapping out the plan in advance, you don’t have to think in these moments, you can just act.
The More You Know, Knowledge is Power: As a trauma therapist, the first order of business is psychoeducation. It is incredibly validating to understand why and where some of your experiences come from and that they are neurobiologically indicated and normal responses to trauma. Learning about the impact of trauma on your brain and therefore your behavior can be very shame reducing for people who are having a lot of judgments and feeling critical of themselves. My favorite book is The Body Keeps the Score, By Bessel van der Kolk who is a clinician, researcher, and trauma expert. Here are a couple more Trauma reads.
Non-judgment and Self Compassion: You are doing the best you can. Trauma is not rational, be gentle with yourself and others. If you need to change the expectations of your functioning for a few days, DO. Do less, be easy, get what you need. Your healing isn’t linear.
Own it, this is your story and your life: Figure out a way to reclaim the traumatic experience. Shame exists in isolation, and then begets more and more shame. Brene’ Brown says, “The less you talk about it, the more you got it. Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment.” Speak the shame, tell your story and get reality testing from people you trust. This can be in therapy, rewriting the narrative and meaning, joining an action focused group or ally ship for survivors, writing about your experience, etc. There is not one-size fits all approach here, you have to find what works for you and then own it. You are not alone and you are a survivor
Meghan Breen, LCSW is a DBT therapist in NYC, specializing in the treatment of addiction and recovery. Meghan did post graduate training at the Ackerman Institute in couples and family therapy, and focuses on working with shame, vulnerability and the impact of connection and validation in relationships and families. Meghan is currently working on her first book and is the founder of the Laughter Party Project.
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“People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”
- MARCUS AURELIUS