How to Stop Thinking About Trauma

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Trauma, a deeply distressing or disturbing experience, can leave indelible marks on the landscape of our minds, often leading to profound psychological effects.

It can cause us to relive painful memories, disrupt our ability to live in the present and create a pervasive sense of fear or anxiety. However, these traumatic thoughts aren't unassailable fortresses; they can be managed, and doing so is crucial for our mental health.

Managing traumatic thoughts allows us to break free from the shackles of past experiences, paving the way for healing, growth, and a renewed sense of control over our lives. 

In this article, we will explore the importance of managing traumatic thoughts, the impact it has on our mental health, and strategies to navigate through the stormy seas of trauma toward the calm waters of recovery. 


Trauma & PTSD Counselors

Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Derek Bonds, LPC

Derek Bonds, LPC

Pueblo, Colorado
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Clarissa Mendez, LSW

Clarissa Mendez, LSW

Colorado
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Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Arias Gonzales, MS, LPC, NCC, EMDR-Trained

Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Leigh Harlan, LPC

Leigh Harlan, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Bonna Machlan, Ph.D., LPC, CAS

Bonna Machlan, Ph.D., LPC, CAS

Colorado
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Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
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Joel Harms, MA, LPC

Joel Harms, MA, LPC

Colorado
(720) 449-4121
Joseph Anders, LPCC

Joseph Anders, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Melissa Peterson, LPC

Melissa Peterson, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424

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Strategies to Stop Thinking About Trauma

A. Therapy and Professional Help

Professional help plays a key role in dealing with trauma, especially in severe cases. Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and trauma-focused therapy have been proven effective.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals understand and change thought patterns that lead to harmful behaviors or feelings.

EMDR is an innovative therapeutic approach that employs eye movements as a tool to assist the brain in processing distressing memories linked to trauma.

Trauma-focused therapy, like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), specifically addresses the emotional and mental health needs of individuals with trauma.

In severe cases, these therapies are essential. They provide a safe environment for you to process your trauma with guidance from a trained professional. 



B. Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can also be beneficial in managing traumatic thoughts. These techniques can help bring your focus back to the present, reducing the power of traumatic memories.

Simple mindfulness exercises include focusing on your breath, paying close attention to the physical sensations of your body, or mindfully eating a meal.

Regular practice can help train your brain to focus on the present rather than being caught up in traumatic thoughts. 


C. Self-care Practices

Self-care practices are also crucial in managing trauma-related thoughts. This includes maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep.

Physical health significantly impacts mental health, and neglecting it can exacerbate trauma symptoms.

Exercise, for instance, can reduce feelings of anxiety and improve mood. A balanced diet can provide the necessary nutrients for brain health, while adequate sleep allows the brain to rest and recharge, reducing the intensity of traumatic thoughts.


D. Support Systems

Finally, having a strong support system is invaluable. Friends, family, and support groups can provide emotional assistance, practical help, and a sense of belonging.

Building a support system can start with opening up to trusted friends or family about your experiences.

Joining support groups, either in-person or online, can also be helpful. These groups provide a safe space to share experiences, learn from others, and gain the reassurance that you are not alone.

Regular interaction with your support system can significantly aid in your healing process.


The Impact of Constantly Thinking About Trauma

Constantly thinking about traumatic events can have a profound impact on an individual's mental health. It isn't simply reliving painful memories; it's a relentless cycle that can lead to debilitating disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.

This happens because trauma can disrupt the normal functioning of our brain, particularly the parts responsible for fear response, memory, and emotions.

When these parts are disrupted, individuals may find themselves stuck in a loop of intense fear and anxiety that is often triggered by reminders of the traumatic event.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 3.5% of U.S. adults suffer from PTSD, and an estimated 7-8% will experience PTSD at some point in their lives.

Furthermore, research indicates that individuals who have experienced trauma are three times more likely to suffer from depression.

These statistics underscore the gravity of traumatic thoughts and the imperative need to break this cycle.

Breaking free from the grip of traumatic thoughts is not just about feeling better; it's about preventing the onset of serious mental health disorders and reclaiming one's life from the shadows of past experiences.



Coping Mechanisms and Techniques

Coping with trauma is a personal journey, and what works for one person may not work for another. However, many people find relief in various coping mechanisms that can help manage the intensity of traumatic thoughts and bring a sense of control over their mental state. 

Here are some strategies that might be beneficial:

Journaling

Journaling is a powerful tool for processing emotions, understanding patterns, and gaining insight into your thoughts and feelings.

Step 1: Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won't be disturbed.

Step 2: Choose a medium that suits you - it could be a physical notebook or a digital app.

Step 3: Write about your feelings, thoughts, fears, and hopes without censoring yourself. Remember, this journal is for you alone.

Step 4: Try to write regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes each day.

Step 5: Periodically review your entries to identify patterns or triggers.


Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques can help you stay anchored in the present moment, which is particularly helpful when you find yourself overwhelmed by traumatic thoughts.

Step 1: Engage your five senses. Look around and name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.

Step 2: Practice deep, mindful breathing. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and repeat.

Step 3: Use a grounding object – something you can hold in your hand and focus on when you start to feel overwhelmed.


Art Therapy

Creating art can be a non-verbal way to express and process emotions that might be too difficult to put into words.

Step 1: Choose your medium - drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, etc.

Step 2: Let your feelings guide your creation. Don't worry about the result or whether it's "good" art.

Step 3: Allow yourself to explore your feelings as you create. You might find that certain colors, shapes, or themes recur.

Step 4: Reflect on your artwork. What does it say about your feelings or experiences? 


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Conclusion

Dealing with trauma is a complex process that requires patience, persistence, and proactive steps towards mental health.

From understanding the impact of constantly thinking about trauma to exploring various coping mechanisms such as journaling, grounding techniques, and art therapy, it's clear that managing traumatic thoughts is possible.

Seeking professional help, particularly in severe cases, can be transformative. Therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, and trauma-focused therapy offer structured support.

Meanwhile, mindfulness, meditation, self-care practices, and a strong support system can serve as daily tools to manage traumatic thoughts.

Each step you take, no matter how small, is a stride towards reclaiming your life from the shadows of past experiences.

 

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July 20th, 2024

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