Updated: Nov 14
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For many, December is a month full of festive holiday activities and gratitude. It can also be a month that triggers us into our trauma responses.
As we walk along our healing journey, we often see others who have not chosen healing. This experience can be deeply frustrating, especially when we care for those people. And, during the holidays, feelings of loneliness may increase.
When we look back at this month, let's do our best to accept reality for what it is and celebrate all we've done to heal. Radical acceptance and empowerment are two key concepts that will help us move forward into the new year with healing.
The beginning of the New Year is a motivational time for many, but we often create rigid ideas of success that can be nearly unachievable.
This year, you can set yourself up for lasting success by creating sustainable trauma-informed goals that focus on healing your trauma. We often see self-care as a treat, but it's necessary for overcoming trauma.
13 Trauma-Informed Goals for the New Year
Here's some trauma-informed inspiration for your New Year goals! Remember, when goal-setting, it's best to focus on one thing at a time. Once you achieve your first goal, then focus on a second single goal. If you could pick just one of these goals, which one would it be?
Practice active listening.
Create a self-care plan.
Practice breaking reenactments.
Create a healing inner voice to counteract a harmful or critical inner voice.
Set, communicate, and reinforce boundaries.
Try trauma-informed coaching or therapy.
Identify your trauma responses.
Let go of guilt and shame.
Lean into radical acceptance.
Empower yourself and others.
Ask for help when you need it.
Be your own trauma-informed coach by asking yourself powerful questions.
Removing Obstacles to Self Care is Self Care
When committing to self-care is too challenging, preparing for self-care can serve as a soft-launch.
Trauma keeps us stuck. Sometimes, when we're triggered, we can become paralyzed. In our frozen state, we might think about what we want or need to do. We might even obsess over it.
But instead of doing the things we know will help us, we procrastinate, frozen in trauma brain.
If this ever happens to you, this tip can help you escape your fight or flight mode and step back into your true self.
Instead of thinking about the big task you need to do, shift your mindset by thinking about what you can do to prepare for that task.
By only committing to preparing for the task at hand, the new task (preparing) feels much easier, faster, and more manageable. Once it's done, we've removed obstacles to our self-care, which is self-care. By breaking down self-care in this way, it can be more manageable to step out of trauma brain and back into executive functioning.
Loss is Inevitable When Healing
Healing from trauma is a process that is never truly "complete." As you move through your journey, you'll realize that there are things we leave behind as we move forward.
As we heal, we must let go of things that were once important to us. These might be old habits and coping strategies that no longer serve us, relationships that we can now see as damaging to us, or a past version of ourselves that we can no longer cling to.
In the SELF-model, loss is an important experience to acknowledge and work through. SELF stands for Safety, Emotions, Loss, and Future.
When we experience loss, we must confront difficult emotions like grief and disappointment. For many people, healthy distraction strategies can snowball into fully-fledged avoidance, where the problem is never truly addressed.
The issue with avoiding how we feel about our loss is that those feelings of grief and disappointment don't go away. They fester, grow, and may even transform into resentment, bitterness, irritation, anger, or sadness.
So, as you continue on your healing journey, be aware that loss is a part of that journey, and when the time comes, it's important to sit with the feelings you experience, whatever they are.
3 Trigger Care Tips to Escape Trauma Brain
There's nothing wrong with having a trauma response, but these experiences can be unpleasant.
Earlier, we discussed how preparing for self-care can be an act of self-care. Now, it's time to explore other tools and tips that can help us get out of trauma brain when we're feeling stuck.
1 - Brain Gym Exercises
"Brain Gym" is a term used to describe to various hand-eye coordination practices (like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time). Focusing on these exercises can flip a switch in your brain and stop overthinking in its tracks.
2 - Planning & List-Making
We lose access to our executive functioning when we're in trauma brain, but accessing those skills can get us out of trauma brain. One way to do this is to step into planning mode by making lists. Your list can be something you'll use (like a shopping list or wish list), or it can serve as a tool (like a list of your favorite songs, meals, or friends).
3 - The 5-4-3-2-1 Method
This technique is meant to draw us out of anxiety (worrying about the future) or rumination (worrying about the past) and into the present moment. To. do this exercise, name and focus on five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel/touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Trauma-Informed Spotlight: Andrea Blanch
Trauma-informed care is as much about social justice as it is about healing.
Andrea Blanch is currently the President and Director of the Center for Religious Tolerance, where she works to uplift women in leadership, assist in conflict resolution, heal embedded social and historical trauma, and create conditions for sustainable peace.
Andrea was the founding director of the Collaborative for Conflict Management in Mental Health at USF and the National Trauma Consortium. She also holds numerous awards and has dedicated her life to social change.
Andrea has published a large volume of writing and research surrounding trauma-informed care, women's mental health, conflict management, systems change, and mental illness.
She has done great work in the trauma-informed space, and her easily accessible resources can help trauma-informed leaders learn and grow.
If you've been following along with our monthly newsletters, don't forget to take a moment to thank yourself and celebrate the work you're doing to improve your life with trauma-informed solutions. The skills, tools, and resources you've gained are all worthy of celebrating.
For more resources to continue your journey, be sure to check out:
On the The Art of Trauma-Informed, Chefalo Consulting's trauma-informed blog, we release new content every week! In December, we discussed:
In December, we wrapped up Intentional Conversations, but these free sessions are coming back! Except to see available session dates by the end of January.
Intentional Conversations are free networking sessions facilitated by a trauma-informed specialist.