In this article we’re featuring an extract from one of the chapters from the book, ‘Overcoming Traumatic Stress: 2nd Edition’. This is a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques for those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other Trauma related symptoms. In the full book, the chapter goes on to deal with techniques for evaluating how five distinct areas of your life have been affected by your traumatic experiences and how they are currently serving you during your recovery process. These spotlighted areas are:
- Diet, nutrition and eating habits
- Physical health, exercise and fitness
- Leisure, hobbies and personal interests
- Friendships and your relationships with others
- Your life-work balance
Reclaiming Your Life – Opting For Positive Choices
The final stage of healing from the effects of your trauma is to reclaim control of your life. You may not have been aware of just how much your trauma has impacted on your life until you picked up this book. You may have noticed that you have not been feeling well, but the changes resulting from the trauma may have just crept into your life and you took them as a given, assuming that this was how it was going to be from now on. You may have felt that you had no choice as things felt out of your control. You may not even have noticed how narrow and confined your life may have become and how much you have lost agency of yourself. This is common for many people who have been affected by trauma.
This chapter invites you to reclaim control of your life. You are invited to evaluate the changes that have ocurred for you in your day-to-day life and conciously choose how you would like to live your life now. You could transform the trauma-driven changes into positive, healthy life choices for you. Life choices that support your healing and may be more aligned to your true values and authentic needs. For Example, Antonia, who was mentioned earlier in the book, discovered that although she had to make significant lifestyle changes as a result of her trauma, eventually these aligned more with the person she actually is. She found out who her real friends were and she discovered that the world she had operated in before the trauma had been much more about image rather than her personal qualities. In that sense although she would not have ever wished for the trauma to occur, it brought her closer to who she really was.
You have now reached a stage in this book where you are invited to embed what you have learned about yourself during your recovery process into your day-to-day life. You may choose to aim towards creating a life that despite, or possibly because of, the trauma could be a much fuller, healthier and rewarding experience for you than it may have ever been. The benefits arising from a life well lived not only enhance your emotional and physical wellbeing but also optimise your physical health and, with this, the functioning of your brain.
This chapter invites you to revisit the principles that you committed to in Chapter 4 which have underpinned the whole of this book. These are:
- To develop an open curiosity towards yourself
- To give yourself another chance of life now
- To develop a language of loving kindness and compassion towards yourself
The rest of this chapter will help you shine a spotlight on various areas of your life to enable you to examine your current lifestyle or habits, bearing in mind the above principles. You are invited to evaluate to what extent you are content with and how in control you feel of each of these areas in your life. You are encouraged to identify areas or habits that do not benefit your healing process, are not healthy for you and do not serve you well now. You can then explore what you might try to do differently to bring about more positive choices in this particular area of your life.
You’ve been reading an extract from Chapter 15 of, ‘Overcoming Traumatic Stress, 2nd Edition’.