People are emotional beings. Certain events, bad experiences, loss, and deep pain can become emotional or psychological trauma. When that happens, the memory of the experience replays in our minds, sometimes hurting us just as much as it did in the exact moment. It takes a small thing, such as a familiar scent or music, to trigger the pain even when we think we are way past it.
Let’s talk about the role of time in the healing process and all the other factors that can contribute.
What’s Time Got to Do with It?
Time does have an important role in the process of healing, but is it a crucial one?
Think of a fractured bone. While it takes time to recover, it will not heal properly without fixing the bone first. It is similar to emotional pain. If you don’t face your feelings and take other steps toward healing, time will only be a measurement of the durability of your pain.
On the other hand, if you view time as an opportunity to gain insight into what happened and your attitude toward it, you can use it for personal growth and engage in activities that promote healing.
How Long Is Too Long?
Whether you are going through a divorce, breakup, a loss of a loved one, or something else, pushing yourself to recover in a day, a week, a month, a year, or longer, is counterproductive. Take baby steps toward recovery. There is a lot of work to be done. Be patient, and don’t get frustrated when you take one step forward and two steps back. This isn’t a failure – it’s reality. You can learn from these relapses if you accept them as a part of the process.
The Importance of Self-care
Remember how we said that time is an opportunity to engage in activities that promote healing? Self-care is one of those activities. It is also something you can do even when you don’t feel like it. The self-care activities will contribute not only to your emotional health but also to your physical health. Here are some self-care activities that you can try today:
- Get enough sleep: Sleep suffers the most when we are in emotional pain. That’s why you need to do your best to get at least seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. Make sure you sleep on a comfortable mattress, establish a bedtime routine, avoid bedtime distractions, etc.
- Eat healthily: The food you eat can affect your mood and your energy levels. Make sure you eat enough vitamins, minerals, protein, and other necessary ingredients to have enough energy to cope with the emotions and events of the day.
- Get some “me time:” This can mean almost everything. Find time to do something you enjoy. That can be socializing, taking a warm bath, binge-watching a TV show, dancing alone in your room, reading a book, and the like.
Just a Little of That Human Touch
The Boss, AKA Bruce Springsteen, sings, “I just want someone to talk to, and a little of that human touch,” and this is accurate in terms of emotional healing. Other than emotional, we are also social beings, and we can benefit from human support in difficult periods.
Having a network of friends and family you can turn to in times of trouble is a key component in recovery. Mental health professionals often accentuate the importance of this network in the healing process. They emphasize the lack of it as a risk factor for depression, alcohol use, and even suicide. Of course, for social support, you need to turn to people you trust who bring out the best in you and who are caring and supportive.
The Saboteurs of Healing
Some behaviours can sabotage your attempts to heal, causing you to take more steps backwards and prolong your agony for an indefinite amount of time. One of them is being fixated on something, such as a past betrayal or holding a grudge over a harsh breakup. Opposite to that, but with the same effect, is denial. If you don’t face the thing that hurt you, it is hardly likely that you will ever get over it. Resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as ignoring the cause of the pain or relying on alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, will not only prolong the recovery process but also cause other unrelated problems you will need to deal with later on.
You’ve probably heard the expression “time heals everything.” However, nobody says just how much time is enough to heal. This is because pain is individual. All of us experience it differently.
If the pain is insufferable and takes too long to process or if the trauma is deeply rooted in your mind, consider professional counselling to guide you through this journey toward healing.