I know it sounds strange to hear a trauma therapist warning you to slow down when it comes to healing from your past but the truth is you can inadvertently be retraumatized if things are not conducted in the correct ways. This is especially true if you are a person with a complex trauma history (more than one traumatic experience) or if your trauma included physically or sexually unsafe situations.
If you have experienced trauma and you are considering processing your trauma history here are some things to consider first...
Anxiety affects everyone, not just those of us who have a from an Anxiety Disorder. Here are three easy to remember strategies for managing anxiety. These are adapted from Dialectical Behavior Therapy’s TIPP Skills
A year of isolation may have given many of us an opportunity for self-exploration and blossoming.
As we welcome our first Pride Month after over a year of COVID-19 precautions and protocols and moving through lifting of social distancing mandates, it can be a time for reflection on what this experience has been like for us.
Grief for the loss of a year without access to our loved ones and larger community. Craving connection, normalcy, and a sense of safety. Anxiety around adjusting to socializing as COVID mandates begin to lift. These are all common experiences for our clients right now.
All humans need connection. Women in particular, as studies show, need connection with other women** (see note below).
Some research suggests this is due to biology and hormone differences for females. Combine biological predisposition with current factors (increased use of technology, a global society where people tend to live apart, and our ongoing need for social distancing due to the pandemic) and you have the perfect recipe for loneliness.
The solution? Make female relationships a priority.
The result? Happier, more satisfied women with community and intimacy.
There are several ways to make your time in therapy effective. Showing up and sitting on the couch isn’t enough. If you are ready to make lasting change you have to put in the work. A good therapist will match your engagement every step of the way.
I’ll never forget the first time I, REALLY asserted myself in a high conflict situation.
My voice and body were shaking. It took every ounce of willpower I had to square up to the combative and disgruntled man in my living room. I looked him in the eye and asked him to leave, now. I had recently taken Prevention Action Change's Empowerment Self Defense Class. I utilized the skills I learned in this class to advocate for what I needed effectively and with purpose.
Before this training and other personal growth, I avoided conflict like the plague. Women avoid conflict, feel guilty asking for what they need, and are more likely to have our boundaries pushed. This takes a toll on us. There are strategies you can develop to tune into what you want and ask for it.
In last month’s blog post we shared ideas for coping with the ongoing pandemic during winter. One strategy we talked about was staying connected to others. This month, we are sharing safe ways to connect.
Try volunteering, giving back, or brightening someone’s day.
Join the Virago Staff in collecting donations for local women in Maine. We are collecting donations for the Safe Voices’ Safe House and trafficking outreach program . Safe House is a confidential shelter for survivors who are fleeing trafficking or sexual exploitation. They are looking for the items listed below.
I’m not a fan of looking for silver linings during tragedies or hard times. It’s invalidating to dismiss the pain of a situation by looking on the brightside. You need to feel anger, sadness, disappointment, to get through a hard time. But only staying in the difficult feelings isn’t healthy either.
Intentional self-care is more important than ever as the pandemic ramps up again. On top of political divisiveness and countries are starting to shut down. In Maine, our long and cold winter is on the horizon. Winter for anyone living above the Mason-Dixon line can be difficult on our moods. It can be an isolating time without social distancing.
It's imperative that you take care of yourself this winter if you are prone to seasonal affective mood challenges.
Women often struggle with feeling not good enough. They compare themselves to others, don’t say what they want, and tend to people-please. This is low self-esteem and low self worth in action. You can allow yourself space to make mistakes and be flawed when you have self confidence and self-acceptance. This can’t come from others it has to come from within.
You can read more about the way these challenges connect to interpersonal trauma in our last blog post. But even if you haven’t experienced interpersonal trauma, worthiness is a challenge for so many of us.
Here’s a classic example, you’re invited to some sort of celebration where there will be people you don’t know. You agonize over what to wear and wonder how on earth you’ll find things to talk about. You consider how long you need to stay before it would be rude to leave and think about feigning sick. This could be social anxiety, but for women, more than likely, it’s a self-worth issue.
Most people hear trauma or PTSD and they think one of three things: a military veteran who has served in a time of war, a major incident like a car accident, or a violent sexual assault. All of these are traumatic and cause PTSD but trauma is a vast spectrum that ranges from smaller experiences to more intense and impactful ones. And interpersonal trauma causes its own particular kind of harm, often leading to self blame, low self-esteem, and low self worth that can have serious impacts on our lives. Working with women in therapy, we see this everyday and we want to help women heal from those past experiences so they can feel better about themselves today.