Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Self care essential

VALLEY — Self-care is a simple notion, yet most of us do not practice. We are too busy in our lives with work, family, and completing our responsibilities to take care of ourselves by unwinding and rejuvenating. Our demanding days can take a toll, but as a victim/survivor of domestic violence, it can be more challenging to make one feel relaxed and calm. However, everyone is worthy of care and we have the power to maintain and protect ourselves.

Experiencing domestic violence can happen in different forms of physical, emotional, verbal, mental, financial, and/or sexual abuse. As the body is encountering these unusual events, the mind and body goes into trauma. Trauma can look like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), low-self esteem, anxiety, anger, or sadness. Trauma can also include sleepless nights and change in eating patterns. By understanding and coping with ones feelings, one is able to start to manage the trauma and offer oneself self-care.

Everyone’s self-care routine is different and can be exhausting at its starting point, confusing, or feel meaningless. By slowly working towards self-care, the mind and body will start releasing endorphins to increase the mood. Being active can awaken the nervous system and help move forward from the trauma. While becoming aware of trauma and moving in the direction of self-care, it is important to remember self-care is not selfish but a significant process to cope and heal from an abusive relationship. 

Self-care can be reaching out to others and/or focusing on self indulgence. Talking to someone you trust as a friend, a mental health counselor, and/or community-based advocate can be helpful. Talking doesn’t have to be about the traumatic event experienced but about connecting with others do to “normal” things to feel better and not be triggered.

Relaxation techniques such as exercising, meditation, or yoga can ease stress and improve sleep.  Art therapy as drawing, painting, and photography can explore emotions, improve self-esteem, and cope with trauma. 

Other activities like reading, journaling, and listening to music can calm the mind. A grounding exercise to engage the senses – sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound – can be calming to the mind and breathing. Reactions to healing from trauma can be intense. Always start slow and do things that feel enjoyable.

Acknowledging the change of feelings and lifestyle from trauma can be the beginning of healing.  Taking time to give what the body needs and slowly working on a healthy goal can be rewarding.  Accepting the feelings is a necessary part of healing. Remember, give time to heal from the abuse, be patient, and be prepared for unpredictable emotions without guilt. 

Domestic violence can no longer be ignored, we must work together to raise awareness. If you need help or know someone who does, please call the local 24 hour crisis/assistance hotline at 719-589-2465. Tu Casa also offers Support Groups the second Tuesday of the month.