We all have day-to-day worries that get us down and make us feel sorry for ourselves — stressful situations and strained relationships can make us upset in the moment.
Buried beneath these present-day emotions, however, may be something deeper.
Traumatic memories related to past accidents, illness or unpleasant interactions with others may seem inconsequential when you’re dealing with problems in the present day. But these scars often go unhealed and can stick with you for years after they’re over.
Hidden Emotional Damage
You may have some particularly scarring memories from when you were younger that come up again every once in a while — when a bee buzzes by me, for example, it conjures up memories of stumbling into a nest and ended up in the hospital.
Trauma sticks with us because it is relevant information for our brains to store. The memories return to guide our behavior and help us to avoid similar trauma in the future.
So you may think you’re over that time you got out of control on roller skates and crashed and broke your wrist, but chances are you still have some scars left over from that event.
Scars can also result from being upset by Diagnosis Trauma. Patients experience this when they receive a negative medical diagnosis and internalize their fear or stress.
Suppressing feelings of fear or shock does not make them disappear. It merely buries them, only to be dug up and dealt with later, often multiple times throughout one’s life.
In order to deal with your scars and ultimately get over them, you have to seek treatment or begin to treat yourself.
Letting Go of Negative Emotions
When life gets overwhelming, it can be easy to become consumed by negativity.
Everyone copes with stress differently, and it may take time before you are able to find a method that works best for you. Try some of the following activities and see how they make you feel:
Exercise your creativity, however you prefer to do so. You could paint, dance, read, draw, sculpt, play music, whatever is fun for you.
Exercise, whether it be running, lifting weights or playing a sport. Exercise releases endorphins, improves your stamina and health, and will relieve stress.
Write lists, keep a journal, respond to a thought-provoking article you read — the beauty of writing is that you can write literally anything you want. You don’t have to necessarily write well or share what you’ve written, but exploring your thoughts and emotions is a good way to cope with trauma.
Take a staycation, staying close to home the next time you have days off. It can be stressful to travel, especially due to expenses like airfare and rentals. Not only will you save money by staying near home, but you can really enhance your perception of things you may have taken for granted in the past. Take a trip to that nearby park you’ve never visited, or eat out at that fancy local restaurant. You’ll learn to relax in your own environment.
Wear your favorite outfit. Really, try it. It’s amazing how much of a mental boost we get from looking good and feeling comfortable.
Knock out some of your to-do list. Accomplishing something — anything — can make you feel better. Whether it’s one big project or several smaller ones, it will feel good to finally cross some items off your list.
Learn something new. If there is a topic you’re interested in or a skill you want to work on, do a quick search for information or tutorials and teach yourself! Taking a class and learning with other people can be fun, too.
Experience beauty, whether it be on a nature walk, at an art museum, or listening to music in your own home. It can be a spiritual experience, and nature especially is proven to have a relaxing effect on us.
Meditate. Stretching, deep breathing, and focus are all ways to put stressful thoughts out of our minds. There are guided meditation tutorials online, or you can try yoga.
Play with a pet or small children in your family. People with therapy animals have them for a reason — cuddling with something cute and soft can be calming.
These are only a few methods of dealing with overwhelming emotion. You may find that none of them work for you, and that’s okay! Keep brainstorming and trying new things until you are able to find what calms you.
Always keep in mind that when you are really struggling with emotional damage or trauma, you can reach out to a psychological professional for help.