How to Feel Safe After Trauma

Face of exhausted african businessman touching his closed eyes

Trauma—it’s a term that might conjure up dramatic scenes from movies or the intense plots of novels. Yet, in the flesh and blood of real life, it’s a far more nuanced and personal beast. It barges into our lives like an unwelcome tempest, leaving emotional chaos in its wake. My own understanding of trauma didn’t start in a therapist’s chair or a lecture hall, but through the mosaic of stories from people I’ve encountered. Each story is its own, yet woven together by the common threads of resilience and the human struggle.

Page Contents

What's Trauma Really About?

Imagine trauma as your mind’s alarm bell, ringing loud with a “This is too much!” It’s an emotional short-circuit that kicks in when experiences—like surviving a car wreck, living through a natural disaster, or enduring long-term horrors like bullying or abuse—overwhelm us.

Protect your self After Trauma

Regaining a sense of safety after trauma, or when grappling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is like walking a tightrope. For years, my own shadow was a gnawing unease that took root in my stomach as a constant ache, a souvenir from a childhood marred by sexual assault. The boy who assaulted me, older and supposedly someone I could trust, left me with more than just physical scars. He threatened harm to me and my family if I ever broke the silence about what he did, chaining me to a weighty fear for our safety.
That sense of peril didn’t fade with the incident; it grew, attracting more traumatic experiences, echoing the sentiment that I was perpetually in danger. It’s been a long road, but therapy has been my beacon, guiding me towards strategies to soothe and secure myself, slowly piecing together the puzzle of feeling safe again.

The Many Faces of Trauma

Trauma doesn’t have just one look. It’s got a whole wardrobe:
  • Physical Trauma: This is the stuff that leaves marks on your body. It’s the bruises, the cuts, the physical reminders of something bad.
  • The Mind Game: This is the sneakier side. It’s the nightmares, the sudden panic when you hear a loud noise, or feeling numb when you’re supposed to be happy.
  • Different Strokes for Different Folks: Trauma isn’t picky. It hits everyone differently. Some folks have it hit once and hard (acute trauma), others deal with it over and over (chronic), and some face a mix of different traumatic events (complex).

Trauma’s Sneaky Side Effects

Trauma can be a bit of a ninja, sneaking up on you when you least expect it. You might find yourself super jumpy, having a hard time sleeping, or getting mad over the tiniest things. It’s like your brain’s stuck in this “danger” mode and can’t switch it off.
Mental breakdown portrait of upset young african american woman crying at home

3 ways to heal from Trauma

1.  Understand Your Body’s Response to Traumatic Experiences
Grasping how our bodies and minds react to traumatic events is crucial for healing. It’s essential for both people who’ve lived through trauma and their loved ones to understand that reactions of fear are completely natural, like the instinctive startle we feel when something surprises us.
Here’s the breakdown: Our brains are like intricate machines with various parts handling different tasks. When we face something traumatic, a primal section of our brain kicks into gear, setting off a fear response. This might look like a fight, flight, or freeze reaction. During these moments, our brain’s logic center takes a backseat, making it tough to think straight, articulate thoughts, or stay focused.
Feeling angry, avoiding reminders of the trauma, or shutting down are understandable reactions. They’re not flaws in your character but protective measures your brain employs, fine-tuned over millennia to deal with threats.
For those healing from trauma, it’s common for the brain’s alarm system to be on high alert, mistakenly signaling danger even in safe situations. Recognizing when this happens is key. Awareness helps us navigate our thoughts, emotions, and actions triggered by these fear responses more effectively.
2. Ground Yourself with Your 5 Senses
Traumatic memories can drag you back to the past, and anxiety can cast shadows into the future. Connecting with your body in the now helps create distance from unhelpful thoughts. Remember, the present is where change happens.
Ground yourself by engaging your five senses. Look for:
  • 5 things you can see around you
  • 4 objects you can touch
  • 3 sounds you can hear
  • 2 scents you can smell
  • 1 taste you can enjoy
Did anything new catch your attention? If you’re approaching a stressful situation or discussing your trauma, consider holding onto something tangible like a worry stone, wearing a beaded bracelet, or engaging with a scent that brings you joy. Concentrating on these sensory experiences can keep you anchored and clear-headed.
3. Take Care of Your Body to Increase Resilience
Caring for your physical well-being is paramount, particularly when navigating intense emotions. If you’re feeling run-down, hungry, or in pain, it’s harder for your brain to process things clearly, leaving you more susceptible to emotional overwhelm.
It’s easy to slip into unhealthy habits post-trauma, like eating poorly, using substances, or engaging in risky behaviors. Taking steps toward physical health is a vital part of your recovery journey. Engaging in activities such as yoga, dance, or regular exercise can boost your mood and health, and are powerful tools for healing. These practices teach your body to alternate between activity and relaxation in a balanced way.
Not sure how to start? That’s completely fine. Begin with small steps, prioritizing your safety above all. Every positive change, no matter how minor, is progress. Whether it’s learning about trauma’s impact on your body, opting for healthier lifestyle choices, addressing medical issues, or exploring new relaxation techniques.
Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. What happened to you isn’t your fault, and you’re far from broken. You might not have had control over your past experiences or your initial reactions to stress, but you do have the power to seek support. Help is available whenever you’re ready to reach out.


Dealing with trauma is like navigating a tricky maze – there are twists and turns, and sometimes you hit a dead end. But the important thing is to keep moving. You’ve got the strength, even on the days when you feel like you don’t. And hey, we’re all in this together.
Keep your head up, keep your heart strong, and remember, every step forward is a victory. Here’s to finding our way through the maze, one step at a time.
You could also reach out for anxiety treatment at GloFusion . Our leading provider of care for people with mental health conditions like anxiety and other conditions.

Have you ever been caught off guard by an intense emotional response to something seemingly trivial?