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Emotional flashbacks, a haunting echo of past traumas, have a way of sneaking into our present and casting a shadow over our daily lives. For those who have experienced childhood trauma, these emotional time-warps can be particularly challenging to deal with.

While the journey towards healing is a long one, there are strategies that can help you cope with emotional flashbacks. In this article, we’ll share 13 effective ways to manage and overcome these emotional triggers, guiding you toward a path of inner peace and personal growth.

Understand the Triggers

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The first crucial step in managing emotional flashbacks brought on by childhood trauma is identifying the triggers. People can gain insight into the underlying causes of their distress and take proactive measures to manage and lessen the impact of these triggers on their daily lives by pinpointing the precise circumstances, settings, or stimuli that cause these strong emotional reactions. 

Work on Healing the Trauma

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Once you’ve recognized the trauma that has caused the trigger, it’s important to do some healing work around it. There are a few healing modalities to try that are effective such as:

  • art therapy
  • music therapy
  • yoga
  • meditation
  • exercise

Engaging in any of these will help shift your mind from trauma to inner peace and calm. Speaking to a trauma therapist is also effective as they will put more psychology practices in place.

Practice Mindfulness Techniques

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Grounding techniques, such as deep breathing, sensory awareness, meditation, or focusing on the present moment, can be powerful tools to bring you back to the here and now. Mindfulness helps break the cycle of reliving the past and allows you to regain control over your emotions.

As soon as a trigger happens, take a step back, calm and center yourself, and breathe through it. 

Avoid the Things That Cause Triggers

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Whether it be a person, place, or event, it’s best to avoid these things that commonly produce triggers. Once you’ve healed from your trauma, you can slowly reintroduce them back into your life unless they are toxic.

Understanding that these things are not conducive to your mental health and well-being will make it easier to remove them from your life if you so choose to do so.

Find a Safe and Quiet Place

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As soon as a trigger arises, step away from the situation and find a safe and quiet place to be alone, away from the person, place, or event that triggered your emotions. Sit alone with your thoughts and let them come and go. Don’t hold onto any of them.

When we remove ourselves from the trigger situation, we can quiet our minds and relieve some of the anxiety that has risen from it.

Build a Support System

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Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and/or family who can offer understanding, empathy, and a safe space for you to express your emotions. Sharing your experiences can lighten the emotional burden and provide a sense of validation.

While your friends may not be able to offer advice, sometimes having someone there just to listen can be enough.

Seek Professional Help

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Consulting with a mental health professional can provide you with valuable insights and coping mechanisms. Therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) have proven effective in treating emotional flashbacks.

Whatever method of therapy you decide to choose, remember that getting professional help is crucial to your healing. 

Form Solid Boundaries

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One of the most important aspects of managing emotional flashbacks brought on by childhood trauma is setting up healthy boundaries. It entails identifying and communicating personal boundaries in your relationships and day-to-day interactions.

Establishing and upholding these boundaries is a powerful first step in protecting oneself and averting circumstances that could worsen emotional distress.

Positive Self-talk

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Positive self-talk is a powerful tool for calming the mind and centering yourself. When a trigger arises, go to a safe and quiet place and talk to yourself like you would to someone you love. Remind yourself that you are not your past, and the negative thoughts in your head are all lies.

Repeatedly tell yourself, “I’m okay, this was in the past, I don’t live there anymore,” or a combination of other positive affirmations that will help you get through it.

Engage in Self-Care Activities

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Prioritize self-care to nurture your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Engage in activities that bring you joy, whether it’s reading, exercising, gardening, or writing. Taking care of yourself is a crucial step in healing from past traumas.

Self-care is important for bringing us back to the present and honoring and loving ourselves. It’s a mandatory, safe, and healthy distraction.

Write Your Thoughts Out

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Writing about your thoughts and emotions can be a therapeutic way to process and understand your experiences. Journaling provides a private space to explore your feelings, helping you gain clarity and insight into the roots of your emotional flashbacks.

Gratitude journaling is also effective. It reminds you of all the things you have in your life to be grateful for now, which is a great way to reduce stress and erase toxic thoughts.

Educate Yourself about Trauma and Recovery

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Knowledge is power. Educate yourself about trauma and the recovery process. Understanding the science behind emotional flashbacks can help with the experience and provide you with the tools to navigate through challenging moments.

Healing and recovery are crucial to your mental well-being and physical health. The trauma wasn’t your responsibility, but the healing is. 

Find a Distraction 

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It’s okay to step away from the trigger and find a distraction, whether it be a random dog on the street to pet or something as simple as phoning a friend. Finding ways to distract yourself from your toxic thoughts will help bring you back to the present and calm your anxiety.

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Iva Ursano
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Iva Ursano is a solo female traveler originally from Canada and currently residing in Guatemala. After hitting rock bottom in 2013, she completely reinvented her life at 52 years old, packed up two suitcases, and bought a one-way ticket to Central America. She runs this website for women over 50 to help them make the rest of their lives the best of their lives while feeding street dogs and helping the less fortunate in the town she now calls home, Panajachel. You can follow her on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram (Street Dogs of Guatemala)

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