Struggling with your mental health? We may be able to help. Book a free consultation today.
5 Mins

How to recover from emotional trauma

Heal from emotional trauma with our step-by-step guide on recovery methods, including exercise, self-care, therapy, and mindfulness. Embark on your journey now!
information about emotional trauma recovery
Written by
Bloom Clinical Care Counselling and Therapy Services
April 14, 2023


What is emotional trauma?


Emotional trauma is the response to a devastating event. It usually lasts long after the event passes, with profound physical and mental health problems. Trauma goes beyond simple mishaps and is usually the result of serious incidents ranging from accidents to physical abuse. Because trauma is experienced differently by each person, their reactions to traumatic events also vary.


Emotional trauma primarily affects two parts of your brain 


An almond-shaped structure in the temporal lobe, the amygdala is the system that processes emotions in your brain. It gets overloaded when we experience emotional trauma, and continues to be on alert for future dangers. The over stimulation of the amygdala causes some of the hyperarousal, avoidance, and anxiety associated with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).



The hippocampus can be triggered in many ways when impacted by trauma. Some people keep reliving that moment and cannot stop visualizing / experiencing it. Others suppress it almost too well, often having no immediate memory of the trauma.


Symptoms of emotional trauma

The symptoms of emotional trauma cannot fit into a neat box, since they vary so vastly. While some people may lash out, others may become numb. Here are some commonly reported symptoms, the most important of which is a prior traumatic experience.


  • Intense feelings of anxiety
  • Sensitivity to environmental factors like light, sound etc.
  • Strained relationships, increased grumpiness
  • Reliving and experiencing trauma occurred
  • Hyperarousal and extra vigilant
  • Shock and numbness
  • Excessive crying
  • Thought and feelings of guilt
  • Unhealthy coping skills like drugs, alcohol, binge eating


According to the Extended Recovery transformational model, trauma recovery happens in five stages.


  1. Pre-Trauma Characteristics – This is the state of mind you were in before the traumatic event.
  2. Rumination – In this stage, your mind wanders and works overtime, trying to process what happened. You may feel intense anxiety, shock, and confusion at this stage.
  3. Event Centrality – This stage is a turning point in the healing journey. Thi is when you acknowledge the event and slowly start moving forward.
  4. Sense of Control – This stage involves making an active effort to heal from your trauma and gain personal control.
  5. Mastery – In this stage, you have mastered the art of coping with your traumatic experience. It means you are well-equipped to guide yourself, and the trauma no longer controls you.


These stages are not always linear, nor do they occur in fixed brackets of time. Sometimes recovery is messy, can result in temporary setbacks, or takes longer than you first thought. This model is just a framework, but your journey will be unique and best suited to your healing process.


How to recover from emotional trauma


Physical movement

Exercise contributes to stabilizing the chemical imbalance caused by traumatic events. Aerobic exercise like dancing, running, walking, or cycling, can be highly beneficial. It improves the functioning of the amygdala and hippocampus. 

Yoga exercises, breathing techniques and Tai chi have a similar centering effect on your mind and body. Rigorous exercise releases endorphins which cause a temporary surge of exultation. While low intensity exercise has long-term benefits on mood and energy. Randomized trials have also demonstrated significant improvement in depression and PTSD symptoms with regular exercise.


Prioritize self-care.

After going through emotional trauma, your goal should be to prioritize self care. You cannot help others unless you help yourself. Start by trying to find a routine that helps engage your senses and makes you feel good in the moment. 

Try to avoid unhealthy coping skills like alcohol or drugs. While they seem to provide a temporary relief, they are heavily detrimental in the long run. Surround yourself with the people who bring out the best in you, and avoid those who don’t. Your health is your priority at this time.


Lean on your support system

There is a general notion that opening up about your emotions is a weakness. Therefore, many people opt to deal with their trauma on their own. However, letting people hold your hand through the healing journey can have several benefits. 

It reduces stress and loneliness. Additionally, being around your loved ones can increase the oxytocin in your body, making you feel positive and happy. Find a support system that you trust and lean on them. 


Acknowledge that recovery isn’t linear

No matter what you’re healing from, recovery is rarely a linear process. It is normal to feel a little better every day, and then get hit by a wave of anxiety. You may go weeks feeling centered only to have a trigger send you back to what you had felt earlier. But remember that in the long run, you are better. 


Seek trauma specific therapy and support groups

Not everyone needs professional help to cope with emotional trauma. If the traumatic experience is impacting your daily life - seeking help from a therapist or support groups can help. 

As mentioned before, everyone copes with trauma differently. The goal is simply to feel better, and you can do it your own way. Your therapist can help you face your trauma in a safe and encouraging environment and eventually help you conquer it. 

There are many therapeutic approaches to emotional trauma like CBT, EMDR, and exposure therapy. You can work with your therapist to find what best suits your needs. There are also medications available for those facing intense symptoms.  

Practicing mindfulness and meditation


Meditation regulates the sympathetic nervous system which goes into overdrive when we feel threatened. A study on 74 Army Veterans suffering from PTSD, revealed that regular meditation can help reduce dependency on medications and symptoms.Initially, closing your eyes can trigger flashbacks and cause people to avoid them. However, over time it aids in recovery. 

Some ways to ease yourself into the process include – finding a therapist who understands trauma and meditation practices. There are other ways to reap the benefits of  mindfulness based stress reduction which can also help with coping skills. Activities such as painting, knitting, puzzles, can help bring your attention to the present moment, while engaging your body and mind.

Are you struggling with emotional trauma? We may be able to help. 

At Bloom Clinical Care Counselling and Therapy Services, we have a team of Psychotherapists and Social Workers who are experienced and qualified to help you with your mental health. Our therapists can help with a wide range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, grief, couples therapy, child therapy, anger management, workplace stress, and stress management, to name a few. 

We currently have two locations, in Scarborough and Mississauga, to serve our clients and families across the Greater Toronto Area. All therapists on our team also provide virtual therapy across Ontario via phone and secure video calls. Our collective goal as a team is to help you flourish in life, guide you to your important milestone, and provide unwavering support. 

Scarborough Location

Our Scarborough Therapists are located at Third floor, 1200 Markham Rd suite 306 c, Scarborough, ON M1H 3C3 for in-person and virtual psychotherapy appointments.

Mississauga Location

Our Mississauga Therapist are located at 3024 Hurontario St #206, Mississauga, ON L5B 4M4 for in-person and virtual psychotherapy appointments. Similar to our Scarborough Psychotherapy clinic, the new Mississauga location also supports individuals, families, couples, and children seeking help with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, grief, couples therapy, relationship counselling, stress management, and child and youth counselling.

Struggling with you mental health? We may be able to help. Book a free consultation today.
Disclaimer: This article is solely intended for informational purposes and should not be construed as professional advice. The content of this article should not be used as a substitution to therapy, counselling, medical attention, or any kind of professional help. The author and Bloom Clinical Care Counseling and Therapy services strongly encourages readers to seek guidance from appropriate professionals if they are in need of assistance.