Us trauma survivors need self care to survive. But, it can be hard to think of the right method to use when we’re in the middle of a crisis—like a PTSD flashback or other symptom.
This blog will provide you with a lifelong list of self care ideas, all meant to help your healing from abuse. (Other trauma survivors can definitely benefit from this too!)
The list itself is broken up into 5 categories—helping you to discover which type of self care is best for you in the moment. Here’s the rundown:
Grounding self care:
If you’re feeling dissociated, stuck in your head (like with an anxiety cycle), or detached from your body—this is a great way to reconnect and calm yourself. They’re also easy to act on if you’re experiencing high emotions.
Body Soothing self care:
Life gets rough sometimes, so this section is all about providing some pleasant experiences. It’s focused on comforting activities, self-soothing, and relaxation. Great for when you just need to restore or calm yourself down.
Mindfulness self care:
Mindfulness is perfect for re-centering. If you’ve felt detached from joy, your life purpose, or a deeper sense of peace, then these exercises will help bring that back. They’re also great for building distress tolerance.
Fun and Distracting self care:
If you need a change of pace, to get out of your own head or take a break from a stressful situation—this is the category you’ll want to focus on.
Self Loving self care:
When you feel that need to cry, be held, or be comforted—this section will be the best for you to turn to. It’s all about self-compassionate emotional release, while gently supporting yourself.50 self care ideas--perfect for survivors of abuse. <3 Click To Tweet
10 Grounding Self Care Exercises:
Smell essential oils or candles: This pleasant sensory experience will help you gently reconnect with your body.
Notice ten beautiful things you see: The world is filled with beauty. Without moving from your spot, look for ten beautiful things you can see and ask yourself why you think it’s beautiful. It can be small, like an interesting light reflection or the shadows of papers on your desk.
Explore five textures: Run your hands over five different textures, exploring each one and describing it in your mind as if you’d never felt that sensation before.
Listen to music mindfully: Pay attention to various parts of your favorite songs. What does the base sound like? What about just the vocals? The mid-tone melody? Different instruments?
Pet an animal: If you have a pet, go ahead and spend a moment with them! If not, you can always take a walk and find some local dogs to pet.
Do a body scan: This is a great way to reduce tension and chronic pain in the body, while reconnecting with it in a grounding way. There are lot of guides on how to do this you can find with a Google search. (If a lot of your trauma was physical or sexual, take caution with this and stop if it gets even slightly overwhelming!)
Caress yourself: Run your fingers or nails lightly along your skin, paying special attentions to soothing places (like inside of the wrists, scalp, and so on)! It’s very sensual, self-loving, and grounding.
Run your hands under cool water: This is a great way to snap out of your mind and ground into your body. Cool or cold water, at just enough of a sensation to be mildly uncomfortable, will help you recenter. If you want a more intense version of this, take a contrast shower!
Notice where you are making contact with a surface: Freeze exactly where you are and notice every part of your body that’s touching the ground, a chair, table, or other surface. What do these areas feel like?
Describe your field of vision: Pretend you’re trying to explain what is in front of you to someone who can’t see. Describe colors, light, objects, and more in as much detail as you can.
10 Body Soothing Self Care Exercises:
Give yourself a foot massage: Get some lotion or oil and give yourself a nice foot massage. This is also a great grounding technique!
Give yourself a hand massage: Hands do a lot of work…so this can be very relaxing! Don’t forget to get your wrists a little, too.
Take a bath: Bonus if you have some epsom salt, bubbles, bath bombs, or candles!
Eat a treat: Nothing wrong with having something delicious when you need to do some self-soothing! Treat your tastebuds.
Wrap yourself in a blanket: Find something comforting and cover yourself in it (like a robe or blanket). Rock back and forth or curl up and close your eyes for a few minutes, reminding yourself that you’re safe. Or, if you want to go the extra mile, make yourself a pillow fort!
Sunbathe: Spend 15-30 minutes in the sun, either at a window or by going outside. Just let the warmth wash over you, imagining the sun is erasing pain and tension from your body as it radiates onto you.
Try acupressure: Google will be a great resource for this!
Find some pleasure: This could be any sort—from gently caressing your skin to an exercise you enjoy to a compassionate sexual moment with yourself. Just do something that makes you feel good.
Dance: Let loose and just have a little at home dance party! It might take a minute to get into it, but once you do you’ll feel great.
Smell some flowers: Take a nice walk outside, go to a garden, or buy yourself some flowers. Spend some time just smelling them and letting their fresh scent wash over you.
10 Mindfulness Self Care Exercises:
Mindful eating: I have a blog on how to do this right here!
Deep breathing: A calming type of deep breathing is explained in this blog, but you’re welcome to do any kind that feels good for you.
Guided YouTube meditation: YouTube is a great resource for guided meditations. Type in any desired keywords with “guided meditation” and try out a video! However, I’d caution against ones specifically meant for trauma survivors—they can be a bit too intense for self care. Focus on self love and peace meditations!
Walking meditation: Imagine flowers blooming every time you take a step. It’s a great way to connect with the earth and notice the feeling of your feet on the ground.
Read a self help book or article: Personal healing work can be a great way to renew a sense of balance and calm in your life.
Notice your surroundings: Starting at your feet, notice the sensation of the ground beneath you. Likewise, focus on what it looks like. Slowly expand in a circle radius around yourself, until you’ve examined all your surroundings.
Repeat affirmations: Find a meaningful affirmation and say it to yourself on every breath—imagining its message floating into you as you inhale. (Join my email list here if you want a notification when an article with 25 confidence affirmations comes out in a couple weeks!)
Automatic writing: Don’t hold back while journaling. Write whatever comes to your mind without judgment, including your feelings about being a trauma survivor.
Reframe your emotions: Think about what you’re feeling right now and ask yourself “how is this feeling trying to help me?” Allying with your emotions and inner critic can actually be very healing! Check out this blog or this program to start.
Stretch: Pay attention to your body’s sensations as you gently stretch. Yoga is also a great way to do some mindful self care!
10 Fun & Distracting Self Care Exercises:
Buzzfeed personality quizzes: It’s a pretty good distraction to find out what type of cake you are based on your favorite vacation ideas!
Look up fandom art: Go to a social media platform and type in the name of your favorite book, TV show, game, or movie with the word “art.” Lots of enjoyable content should come up!
Fingerpaint: It’s quite the fun, low-key creative activity to get you out of a negative headspace!
Visit Kids Write Jokes on twitter: There are some pretty funny ones! Here’s the account.
Watch cute animals videos: Pretty self-explanatory!
Do some chores: Although this might sound like this is a lot of work, cleaning can actually be a great distracting form of self care—plus you’ll feel refreshed afterwards.
Write a gratitude list: List 10-20 things you’re grateful for about life, yourself, or someone you care about.
Window shop: Go to a local mall or downtown section of stores and check out the various outfits on display. Which do you like? Maybe even try some things on, without the pressure to buy anything!
Listen to a fun podcast: What is a genre of fiction you like? Look up a podcast in that and give it a try! If you’re a nerd like me, I’d definitely recommend The Adventure Zone. 🙂
Play a puzzle game: Anything works, from Candy Crush to Picross to Sudoku!
10 Self Love Self Care Exercises:
Write yourself a self love letter: Tell yourself all the loving things you wish you could hear from someone else, but in a letter to yourself. Share why you’re worthy and wonderful as a trauma survivor. (I’ll send you a Self Love Letter here, btw!)
Look in the mirror and notice five things you like about yourself: No matter if they are small or large, find five things you think are beautiful about your body.
Write a thank you letter to your body: Your body helps you live every single day. No matter its limitations, it’s doing its best. Thank it!
Make a list of ten things you wish someone would tell you right now: Then go ahead and tell yourself those things, reading them aloud to yourself.
Validate your emotions: Go through all the main emotions (anger, sadness, happiness, fear, etc) and validate them. Say something like “I accept your presence and invite you into my heart, emotion.”
Hug yourself: While you do this, repeat “I am safe” or a similar affirmation!
Go on a date with yourself: Take yourself somewhere special. Bonus if you talk to yourself like you’re on a date, too! Share kind thoughts with yourself and enjoy your own company for a bit.
Dream about your future: Imagine living your absolute dream life. Maybe even make a Pinterest board with images of that dream!
Forgive yourself: Say “I forgive myself for…” and finish that sentence with whatever comes to mind. Try this until you feel that emotional release you really need.
Write yourself a love poem: Try this from the point of view of a friend or lover—what would they write about you?
Which of these 50 self care exercises do you need most today?
Go ahead and comment below with it, along with what it’s going to help you through! This will help other trauma survivors in similar situations know what techniques to look into—based on what it helped you handle.
My own favorite, right now, is making a list of ten things I wish someone would tell me! Especially when it comes to everything falling into place with my long term goals in my business and health. <3