The Intersection of Trauma, Resilience & Self-Care

I have been researching trauma, and in my studying, I stumbled upon something that I find fascinating. When we think about healing trauma, we promote building resilience, but how? Resilience sounds like a mythical, unreachable goal (it is not), but it feels that way. However, if we re-frame our thoughts around resilience and view it through a self-care lens, we can see that by practicing self-care, we are building resilience! Now that to me feels much more feasible. Allow me to explain. 

First, let’s define trauma. Trauma can be described as a singular event or a series of events that are deeply distressing or disturbing. Traumatic events are outside of typical human experience and post a significant threat to one’s well-being and safety and/or the well-being and safety of our loved ones. You can also experience trauma by witnessing a traumatic event. We are all currently experiencing a collective trauma with the COVID-19 crisis. The ramifications of COVID-19 are presently unknown, and everyone is handling it differently given their circumstances. 

Research shows that there is a significant link between traumatic experiences and adult health and well-being. Especially if the trauma was experienced before your 18th birthday. That is not to say that everyone who endures trauma is destined to have challenges later in life. You are not your trauma, and you are not what happened to you. There are ways to heal. 

The way we can “bounce back” or overcome our trauma is through our resilience. Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. This involves profound personal growth, which will examine our behaviors, thoughts, and actions. Anyone can develop and learn to increase their resilience over time. Building resilience empowers you to withstand and learn from our traumatic experiences. 

Some of the core components of building resilience are connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning. Sound familiar? Let’s think about those four components while comparing them to the domains of self-care. For a refresher on the domains of self-care, see this previous blog post.

Resilience Core ComponentSelf-Care Domain 
Connection Relationship domain 
Healthy Thinking Self-Compassion &
Self-awareness/Mindfulness domains
MeaningSpiritual Domain 
WellnessAll 10 self-care domains promote optimal wellness when practiced as part of a routine. 
Table created by Dr. MC

Therefore, if we practice a robust, consistent, foundational routine that incorporates aspects of all 10 domains of self-care, we will build resilience. I recognize that this is easier said than done, so I am going to provide you with a few resilience-building activities to get you started. There are countless ways to build resilience, so this is just a starting point. Engage in the any of these activities that feel right to you.

The following is from the book titled, “My Pocket Positivity – Anytime Activities the Boost Optimism, Confidence, and Possibility” by Courtney E. Ackerman.

For more on this topic, please watch my Facebook Live video linked below. The session ends with a beautiful guided meditation on healing from Inner Health Studio. 

Don’t forget to tune into Facebook LIVE every Tuesday at 12 PM for Talk-Back Tuesday at the Self-Care Cabaret. If you miss the LIVE video, you can always watch it later when you have time.  

Stay well,

Dr. MC 

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