7 Steps Toward Healing After Trauma

woman in black tank top covering her face with her hands

The journey of healing after trauma can often feel long, overwhelming, and very lonely. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through. But I want you to know—you don’t have to walk this path alone. There are small, gentle steps you can take each day that will help loosen trauma’s grip on your life bit by bit.

Healing takes tremendous courage, compassion, and patience with ourselves and others. While the trauma may always be part of your story, there is hope for establishing a new sense of safety, trust, and empowerment after adversity. Let’s talk about seven actions you can take today to continue moving towards that light.

Release the Shame

First and foremost, know that you did nothing to deserve or provoke what happened. The fault lies entirely with the perpetrator. Still, toxic shame often prevents us from reaching out for help after trauma.

We replay the incident repeatedly, torturing ourselves with “what ifs” and self-blame. We forget that we were victims, not willing participants.

This shame hides our wounds and impedes healing. To move forward, you must release it. Speak kind truths to yourself as you would a dear friend.

Let go of judgment and acknowledge that you were harmed unfairly. Talk to trusted loved ones who can provide perspective. Their support will help you see this was not your fault.

Process the Memories

Trauma lives in the body and the mind. Ignoring it usually backfires by allowing fear and pain to haunt you in nightmares, triggers, and intrusive flashbacks. But while avoidance feels safer, processing the memories is crucial to recovery.

This does not mean you should force yourself to relive the event before you’re ready. Talk to a trauma-informed therapist who can guide you in slowly approaching the memories at your own pace. Methods like EMDR and somatic therapy can help your nervous system release the intensity of recall, so you move through it without re-traumatization.

Over time, sharing your story helps make sense of what felt incomprehensible. As you process it in safe ways, the power of the memories will fade. Pain cannot be erased, but gaining perspective allows you to integrate it so life regains meaning.

Find Your Strengths

When we endure something out of our control, it’s easy to see ourselves as helpless victims. But surprisingly, studies show trauma can uncover undiscovered strengths and resiliency. And this resiliency may come from knowing that justice can help restore our sense of power.

According to SteinLaw, a renowned victims advocate in Broward County, seeing consequences for the person who harmed you helps the world feel balanced again. It sends the message that you and your suffering matter. And that no one, no matter how powerful, is above basic human decency.

So, if you feel this is the best way to regain yourself and find your strengths again, then pursue legal action against whoever is responsible for your trauma.

Strength comes from standing up for what is just, even when it feels hard. Bit by bit, you define yourself not by what happened but by the courage you found to protect others from similar harm. And that’s enough to discover a new sense of purpose in yourself.

Foster Connections

Trauma isolates. It makes us distrust others and disconnect from the community. But isolation deprives the soul of its required nourishment. Humans (you and I) are wired for closeness; our well-being depends on it. There is no better remedy for trauma’s aching loneliness than human connection.

So, start small if you need to. Call a friend, join a support group, and let people know you could use the company. Prioritize those who make you feel safe, seen, and accepted.

There will be fits and starts. That’s normal. People can be annoying sometimes, and while you’re battling this experience, you may have the urge to stay away, but please don’t.

With support, patience, and courage, meaningful connection will take root again, and you’ll rediscover the joy of hanging around your friends and family. But this will not happen if you stay away and duel in isolation. So, hang around those friends today. Visit that family member. Go to that birthday party you’re planning to avoid; you need all the human connections you can get to achieve wholeness again.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Healing is a winding path, not a straight line. Some days, all the worrying and panicking take all your energy; others bring leaps of progress. There will be emotional relapses when it feels like you’re back at square one. This, too, is normal after trauma.

The critical piece is that you continue permitting yourself to honor your pace and process. Ignore arbitrary timelines for “getting better” based on what worked for others.

Appreciate each small step, and be patient with setbacks. With time, you’ll heal.

Practice Self-Care

Healing from trauma takes a toll — physically, mentally, and emotionally. That’s why nurturing yourself through self-care practices is vital. These help counteract the exhaustion that can come with processing traumatic memories and emotions.

Make self-care a daily priority, not a luxury. Tend to your basic needs like sleep, healthy food, and physical activity. Bring in things that comfort you and boost your mood, like massage, aromatherapy, or time in nature. Reduce unnecessary stressors so you can focus inward.

Creating this nourishing environment helps you remain resourced and regulated enough to do the difficult inner work.

Limit Triggers and Consume Positive Media

When we’ve undergone something traumatic, “triggers” in our environment can inadvertently re-traumatize us by recalling painful memories.

Be very mindful of the websites you visit, movies or TV shows you watch, and music you listen to daily. Even reading or watching the news can unconsciously overwhelm your nervous system sometimes.

Make the conscious choice to shift your media diet towards positive content instead. Follow uplifting accounts on social media, read biographies of people who overcame adversity, tune into comedy channels on television, etc. What we consume really impacts our mental state, so fill your cup with hope and protect your spirit.

Wrapping Up

These are just some of the suggestions that can help you heal faster. I wish I had all the answers, but the journey ahead will require more from you than any blog can offer. You must be willing to heal and work towards returning to your usual self.

It’s not that easy, I know. But you can make it work. So, please make it work for the sake of your friends and family.