Overcoming Trauma: How to Heal Your Body and Mind

Trauma brings a lot of difficult emotions and destructive patterns. This makes it difficult for traumatized people to live up to their full potential. Most people live with some past trauma, but only a few actually do the work to heal. Why is that? Let’s have a look at how you can heal trauma, both in the body and the mind.

a sum up of the post: Overcoming trauma: How to heal your body and mind
How to heal trauma

What is trauma

Trauma is a lasting response after you have gone through something distressing. You felt physically, emotionally, or spiritually threatened, or maybe a combination of all three. The event was so significant that it still sits in you. You aren’t able to just let it go and move on.

When you’re traumatized, it’s because you felt so unsafe that you haven’t been able to restore a sense of safety since then. Your worldview is shattered.

We tend to view trauma as something that only exists inside a person’s head, but that isn’t true. Trauma is everywhere in your body. It won’t “just” make you feel anxious or sad, but it can destroy your sleep, make your mind foggy, cause muscle aches, and much more. You can read more about trauma and its symptoms here.

Why you need to move forward from your trauma

It’s difficult to go through healing your trauma. Healing comes with a lot of pain and takes time. It might seem like the easy option to just stay here instead of moving forward. It isn’t, and here’s why.

Trauma brings a lot of difficult emotions. If you are like most people, you don’t want to feel these feelings. You don’t want to feel them, so you suppress them. You do so with various coping mechanisms. Maybe you’re always on your phone, binge eating, isolating, using drugs or alcohol, or always with someone to avoid being alone with the feelings.

As you ignore them, they become stronger. As they grow, you need more to suppress them. You need more food, more drugs, more people, or more screen time. These coping mechanisms slowly take over more of your life. And suddenly you have two problems. The trauma and the things you do to cover those feelings.

To move forward in life, to avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms, and to give yourself a chance at the future you deserve, you have to move through your trauma. You have to feel your feelings, work on yourself, and, step by step, heal yourself.

Healing yourself might make today hard, but it will make your future easier. 

Related: What trauma can teach you

How to heal from past trauma

Trauma influences both your body and mind. This gives you two different approaches to healing. You can choose either one or, better yet, a combination of both. 

How to heal trauma in the body 

Trauma can hurt your body in many ways. You can become clumsy, feel unexplainable body aches, a racing heartbeat, and fast breath. It can even make you lose the connection between your body and mind. This can make you unable to feel sensations and emotions.

Restoring the connection and returning the body to a healthy state can do wonders in your trauma recovery. Here are 3 ways how you can heal trauma in the body. 


A strong connection between your body and mind is crucial for healing and growing. Your body tells you when you are sad, anxious, or happy. It tells you when a situation feels right and when it doesn’t. Your body is crucial for understanding how you feel, and you can’t heal from trauma if you don’t know what you need.

When you’ve endured trauma, you might lose the connection between your body and mind. To heal, you have to restore this connection.

The easiest way to begin doing this is with yoga. Yoga is various exercises intended to control breath, meditate, and balance the connection between the mind and body.

There are several types of yoga, but the ones that work best for releasing trauma, are the slow and gentle practices, such as Yin yoga and restorative yoga.

When you first do yoga, you might experience a lot of trapped emotions coming out. For some, this might be overwhelming. If it gets too much, allow yourself to take a break and come back another time.

You can buy yoga mats here.

Breath work

Your brain consists of four levels. At the bottom are your basics such as breathing, heartbeat, and body temperature. The top layer consists of creativity, rational thinking, and other functions that make humans unique. When you are regulated, your brain will act on the highest level, while a dysregulated brain functions on the lower levels. You can see the picture below to get an overview of the different layers.

The central nervous system is responsible for most functions going from the bottom to the top of your brain. Traumatic events make it difficult for your nervous system to regulate itself. This is why traumatized people often experience a racing heartbeat and rapid breath.

Your breath is the only physical aspect of your nervous system that you can control. You can use your breath to calm down and move to the higher levels of your brain that are necessary to heal and grow. There are several breathing techniques that can do this. Box breathing is one of those, and maybe the most beginner friendly.

A visual explanation of the 4 levels that are within the brain and what they each control.
The layers of your brain

Move your body

Trauma can have a huge impact on your self-esteem. You lost big, and in the time that followed, you probably experienced several smaller defeats. All these defeats are compounded, and they can be damaging to your sense of self. You need something to give you small wins and rebuild your confidence.

Exercising has several mental and physical benefits. One of them is the opportunity to create frequent small wins. It gives you a chance to challenge yourself and overcome these obstacles. It gives you a chance to gather small wins and rebuild your self-esteem.

There are many kinds of exercise, and with some trial and error, it should be possible to find a sport you enjoy. It doesn’t matter if it’s running, yoga, weightlifting, football, or swimming. All that matters is that you get out and move your body. 

Related: How to make an exercise habit

How to heal trauma in the mind

Trauma can shatter your sense of safety and worldview. It can make you lose your connection to yourself and the world around you. You probably feel a lot of psychological pain and use various unhealthy coping mechanisms to get through the day.

A lot of trauma healing is reshaping your worldview and returning to a place of mental safety and stability. Here are 8 ways how to heal trauma in the mind.


Journaling is one of the most basic tools you can use to let go and move on. There are endless options for how you can journal, but there are two types that work especially well for releasing trauma. Thought journals and fake letters.

You can buy journals here.

Thought journal

A thought journal is a simple technique to calm your mind and understand your thoughts and emotions. Here’s how you can do it.

Sit down somewhere peaceful with a pen and a notebook or your computer. Think for a minute about your intentions for journaling. Maybe it’s a specific memory, a feeling, or maybe you don’t know yet?

When you know what your focus is, you’ll begin to write about whatever is on your mind. Don’t think about structure, grammar, or what you should be writing. Just write whatever comes to you, and let it all out naturally.

At some point, your mind might begin to feel still. This means that you’ve gotten everything you needed out. However, it might take a while to get there. Allow yourself to stop whenever you want.

Fake letter journal

There tends to be a lot of anger and guilt, both towards yourself and others, connected to traumatic memories. You can use a fake letter journal to let go of this.

A fake letter journal is a journal where you write a letter to your former self, your abuser, or someone who wasn’t there for you.

Use the “letter” to tell the receiver whatever you need to tell them. This is your chance to say the things you can’t say in real life. 

Reconnect with people

Whether you like to admit it or not, you need people around you. Someone to care about and who cares about you. It’s a fundamental need. Trauma makes it difficult to connect with others, and sometimes it results in you losing touch with the people you care about. This loneliness can be crushing and make it harder to move on.

Reconnection is a slow but crucial part of healing trauma. You can either focus on rebuilding your past relationships or finding new people. 

Rebuilding old relationships

Before rebuilding old relationships, you have to consider if they’re real friends. Did you enjoy their company or were they just a better alternative to being alone? If they weren’t real friends, you’re better off moving on.

If they were real friends, reconnecting is easier than you might think. All you need to do is to reach out. Tell them what happened and that you would like to have them back in your life. Some might have missed you, and others moved on. No matter what, it’s okay. It’s better knowing than always wondering. 

Building new relationships 

You might realize that building new relationships is the best way forward for you. But where do you start?

Building new relationships is intimidating, but there are plenty of people just like you out there. All you need to do is to find them.

A simple way to do this is to join events or groups for your hobbies. If you like football, you can join a football club. If you like reading, you can find a book club. This allows you to meet lots of new people who have the same interests as you.

It might not be easy at first, but making friends gets easier with practice. 

Talk about it

There’s often a lot of shame connected with trauma. To avoid this shame, you’ll avoid talking about what happened. But ironically, ignoring what feels shameful only makes it stronger. The only way to release the shame is to get it out.

You don’t have to tell your whole story to release the shame. Every time you get to share some of it, you move on. You get a bit closer to realizing that there’s nothing shameful about how you feel or what you experienced.

 Build better habits

Habits control around 40% of everything you do and think. They are the foundation for you and your life. Coping mechanisms can turn into bad habits. While they might give you temporary relief, they’ll put you in a downward spiral. Over time, your already chaotic world will just get worse.

To move on and create some stability in your life, you need to create better habits. You need to get rid of your unhealthy coping mechanisms that are pulling you down and find some that can lift you back up.

The process of changing your habits is slow and hard but necessary if you want to move on and become more than your pain. 

Find something bigger than you

It’s easy to forget that there is more than just yourself when you’re suffering. You get drawn into yourself and your problems. Soon, it seems like there is nothing of importance outside of you. You have to find something bigger to heal, connect, and find meaning in life.

Spirituality is about recognizing that there is something bigger out there. There are several ways to do this.

  •     Being In nature
  •      Meditation
  •     Doing something you love
  •     Sitting in silence
  •     Staring at the night sky 
  •     And much more

Find an approach to spirituality that you enjoy. You need something bigger than yourself.

Learn to forgive

You might be angry at yourself for how you’re feeling and for letting yourself get hurt. You might be angry at your abuser(s) or the people you felt could have done more. It’s okay to feel anger. It’s a healthy emotion, and it’s reasonable to feel when someone has let you down. But at some point, you have to release the anger. Especially the anger you feel towards your past self.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you are okay with what happened. It means that you accept that it did. It doesn’t mean that you should let the abusers back into your life but release the anger you feel towards them. They don’t deserve all that energy. There’s nothing you can do about it now. It’s over. Wishing that things were different brings nothing but pain.

Remember, you don’t forgive to make things better for other people. You forgive to make things easier for yourself. You forgive, to let go and move on.

Change your worldview

The world is what you believe it to be. It’s a mirror of your worldview. What you believe to be true often turns out to so. Not because all your beliefs are correct but because you’ll subconsciously be looking for ways to prove to yourself that they are.

Trauma tends to change your worldview, but you can’t let yourself stay there. You have to move away from toxic beliefs and values. Move away from an “I give up” mindset and move towards something that can give you a better life.

Working on these things won’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process, and it’s hard. At first, it might not feel like you’re moving at all, but with time and practice, it gets easier. 

Learn to live in the moment

Trauma can make you stuck in the past. Stuck around the time that the event happened. It can make you worry excessively about the future. Worry about what you’re going to become and if you’re ever going to find peace.

Living in the future or the past might give a false sense of comfort, but long term, it brings nothing but pain.

To move on from trauma, you have to find a way to be here now. To pull yourself out of your thoughts and into the present. Meditation, breathwork, and doing something you love are great ways to do this.

Remember, being in the moment doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the past or do things that’ll benefit your future. It means that you stop worrying and accept that there’s nothing you can do to control it.

Where do you go from here

You become traumatized when you’ve gone through something distressing and haven’t managed to restore your sense of safety. To avoid these difficult feelings. You might have picked up various unhealthy coping mechanisms. You use these to cover up the pain, but you won’t feel better until you let go of them and begin to heal.

Trauma occupies both your mind and body. When you go through healing, you can find approaches that focus on one of the two. However, the most successful way of healing trauma is to use approaches that focus on both.

You now know what trauma is and how important it is to heal. You have the various tools you need to do so. Now there’s nothing left to do than to begin the work. It will be hard, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Read next

Understanding and overcoming Trauma: The Journey to Personal Growth

What Trauma Can Teach You: 7 Traumatic Life Lessons