At-Home Trauma Recovery Tools

Getting support during recovery from trauma can be a difficult and sometimes isolating process. Everyone has a different experience with recovery, and it can be tough to know which methods and treatments are right for us. 

While there are a variety of professional therapies for trauma recovery (see our ‘Professional Therapies’ page), these can be difficult to access due to cost, availability, safety, or the stigma of mental health treatment. 

But don’t worry - there are also many ways to manage stress and trauma symptoms at home without professional assistance. This guide will go through some of these methods, each of which aims to reduce stress and lessen the impact of traumatic triggers. 

Most of these relaxation techniques help calm down our ‘danger signals’, by restoring the balance between our sympathetic (‘fight-flight-freeze’) nervous system, which controls the stress response, and the parasympathetic (‘rest-and-digest’) nervous system, which controls our body’s restorative functions. In fact, you’ve likely already been practicing some of these relaxation techniques with self-care - whether through bubble baths, singing, nature walks, and more! Because while insight into our experiences can be a powerful tool in recovery, we’re also working to rebuild trust in our bodies, by teaching our bodies that they are safe. 

So, here are some general at-home exercises and tools we can incorporate to ease the process of recovery:

Grounding exercises

These exercises help us to redirect our thoughts away from distressing memories and feelings, by guiding us to focus on our physical selves, the sensations of the present, and our environment. This could involve, for example, naming all the objects of a particular colour we can see around us, going through the steps of a favourite task like baking cookies in our mind, counting backwards, naming countries, and many more. Our Bloom courses incorporate grounding exercises throughout, and there are many guided exercises we can find online as well.

Body awareness (full body scan)

You could also try a body awareness technique, during which we focus our attention to the different sensations in our bodies. This process often starts with a full body scan, which involves laying still and focusing on different parts of our body, one at a time, and noticing any bodily sensations as we slowly relax. This relaxation technique has the opposite effect on the body as our fear response; instead of the uncomfortable physical sensations of stress such as sweating and a racing heartbeat, we lower our heart rates, restore our breathing rhythm, and reduce any bodily tension. By relaxing our body, we may also be able to let go of anxious thoughts and feelings more easily, and make sense of what triggered us - ultimately, to lessen the control of these triggers on our lives. There are many guided full body scans on YouTube to help you get started. Progressive muscle relaxation is another related technique, with many free videos available online to guide you through the process.

Stress management

When we know something causes us stress and isn’t necessary to our healing, we can try to reduce its presence in our lives, as well as create boundaries to preserve our non-negotiable needs. So for example, if work emails are a source of stress for us, we could consider creating boundaries about the hours of the day during which we respond to email. This practice also includes creating boundaries to ensure we commit some of our time to relaxation, such as social activities, self-care rituals, and rest.

Breathing exercises

Try one of the many breathing exercise techniques like belly breathing, alternate nostril breathing, breath focus, or the humming bee technique. You can find videos and guided instructions on YouTube. The best bit about breathing exercises is they’ve been documented to decrease our reactivity to stress in the long term! That means that each time we practice deep breathing - even just doing the 5 breaths we do at the end of every Bloom session - it gets easier and easier to settle our anxiety and to get back to feeling well.

And lastly, we have some some general tips for wellness: