Nobody goes through life unscathed. We all have scars of one kind or another, things that stress us out, that trigger bad memories and leave us searching for relaxation techniques. If you are stressed, experiencing emotions or fears from a trauma that has occurred in you r life, there are a multitude of tools available to you that will assist you in relaxing.
A few years ago I was violently raped and the aftermath of that raped had bitterly shaken the very core of my existence. Battling the scars of sexual trauma is a very challenging and difficult process, but one that can be victorious.
After the rape it was as if my life had been ripped away, nothing more than a sheet of paper torn from a notepad. I couldn't eat, or sleep; I didn't think much of myself. I told myself every day that I was defective, damaged goods now. I felt like a shadow somebody forgot.
After the rape I was followed by incessant nightmares and a tumult of emotions. During the rape I was paralyzed with fear, unable to cry out for help. I couldn't fight back. Now the nightmares that haunted me afterward were much of the same. The rape kept happening over and over again in my dreams. I couldn't push my scared feelings aside, even when awake.
I look back and try to recall what helped me get through the fear; writing keeping a journal helped some. For each person, writing about the thoughts and emotions that shape you, move through you, makes you different from anyone else. Only you can express that voice which is you. For me putting my heart on paper was relaxing, the emotions that I was feeling just poured out.
I wrote for healing, it was just me and the paper, and the paper didn't judge me or talk back. I didn't try to write perfectly; I didn't edit or even read what I was scratching out with my pen, I just wrote. Once I started, there were many times that I couldn't keep up with the thoughts inside my head; the words just kept coming out.
An excerpt from my journal:
Today has been awful, tomorrow will be terrible. God how do I wake up in the morning and face that? I won't be able to sleep at all.
I'm trying to hold on, but my emotions are wearing me down. I'm trying so very hard not to let the emotions from that horror of a moment send me running from life.
I hate this, the agonizing struggle for courage, the wrenching prayers for strength, the desperate groping for faith enough to survive the emotions. When does it all end? I've been through enough, haven't I?
I've been fighting the tears all day, when I feel the tears coming up, building like a great hard pressure inside of me, hot, so hot that they might burn. I swallow them down deeper and deeper until they become a hard little knot inside my chest.
I've held those tears forever. All of my life I've tried to pretend that the mean things people say and do couldn't hurt me, couldn't touch me. And sometimes...sometimes I convinced myself nothing did. But I was wrong. It hurt then and it still hurts now.
Some believe that night time is a time for renewal, but it is not always so for a person relieving a traumatic experience. I often spent the night in sleepless activity, frequently waging small battles where the common phrase "Life and death hanging in the balance" gets its true meaning.
For those of us reliving past traumatic experiences, concrete memories of past events have instead formed vivid, haunting dreams that make sleep a despised event, leading to its avoidance. This is short-lived, as natural drives continually prod us to seek daily renewal in the arms of our dreams.
The nightmares for me were awful, I was terrified. Some nights I would wake myself up because I'd been screaming in my sleep, I couldn't push those scared feelings inside, they haunted my life every waking minute. I felt so sick inside. When I would wake up my mind felt like it was whirling around in a bunch of dark clouds. There was fear and sadness that would well up in my heart so strong that it made me withdraw from my family and friends.
I learned not to force myself to go back to sleep. I would listen to music; I would use a CD of relaxing music to help calm myself. I found that quiet instrumentals worked best. My all time favorite is 'Keys to the Kingdom' by Carol Coles. I would spend about 5 to 10 minutes doing basic deep breathing. Inhale through the nose and exhale through mouth.
Breathing exercises can help you throughout the day, at home, at work, at play. Focus solely on your breathing, taking deep breaths in through the nose and out through pursed lips. Counting your breaths going in and out may help you to concentrate. Slowing the respiratory rate helps counteract any symptoms caused by anxiety and helps to distract you from your worries.
There are numerous relaxation techniques available that can make a big difference in your day. When first attempting to relax it takes a conscious effort, but with practice it will become a natural thing. They key is repetition, practice, by doing them over and over again they will become habit.