Eight tips to help you heal from trauma

Eight tips to help you heal from trauma

Dr Lee Kingma shares four signs that you are suffering from trauma and offers eight tips to help you heal. 

Depressed woman
Depressed woman/ iStock

October is Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa. 

According to gov.za, an estimated 400-million people worldwide suffer from mental or neurological disorders or from psychosocial problems.

Some of the mental health problems include depression and anxiety.

Experiencing a traumatic event and suffering from trauma can also affect one's mental health. 

Dr Lee Kingma, a coach, explains what trauma is and how to heal from it. 

READ: Six tips to help boost women's mental health during the pandemic

What is trauma?

Trauma is generally understood to be psychological or emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. This could result from a single event, such as dealing with a loved one’s unexpected death, ongoing trauma such as domestic violence or childhood trauma or exposure to varied and multiple events such as working in a toxic work environment.

What are the signs that someone is undergoing trauma without even realising it? 

Trauma can be realised in our thoughts, our behaviour, our body, or our emotions.


The traumatic event keeps arising in our minds. We may experience nightmares. We have difficulty focusing and sometimes feel confused.


We avoid being in the place where the trauma arose. Avoiding people and withdrawal from social interactions. No longer enjoying the activities which before gave us pleasure.


Our eating patterns change in that we either binge or starve. We sleep poorly. We feel more aches and pains which we cannot pinpoint. We lose interest in sex. We are always on the alert for danger.


We feel anxious and even have panic attacks. We are emotionally numbed and depressed. We feel guilt and shame. We over-react to situations and are often angry.

It is important to note that, as humans, we all experience the above at some level. It is not healthy to catastrophise but rather to assess the severity and occurrence of the above signs of trauma. We are also all different in how we respond to situations – some people are more sensitive and will respond more acutely to a situation, whereas others have more resilience.

Trauma recovery tips

1. Share - tell a trusted other about what you are experiencing. 

2. Seek professional support from your Employee Assistance Provider, a therapist or coach.

3. Therapy groups such as Grief Sharing are helpful for some people.

4. Finding ways to support others can lift your spirits and distract you from over thinking.

5. Be gentle with yourself. Investing in your own well-being through exercise, healthy eating, massage, watching an uplifting movie or even a long bath doused with aromatherapy oils.

6. Allow time for healing. Quick fixes do not work in the healing of trauma.

7. Practice gratitude. A daily journal of recording small delights can positively impact our brain chemicals.

8. Hope. We all access this differently – through our faith, remembering what we have overcome in our life, planning small pleasurable future activities, and spending time with others who give us positive energy.

READ: Civil Unrest: How to boost your mental health

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Dr Lee Kingma
Dr Lee Kingma/ Supplied

More About Dr Lee Kingma

As a former HR executive at Juta Publishing for 13 years, Lee has coached and mentored employees in managing their careers successfully in dealing with the complexities of life and the world of work. She has consulted both in SA and internationally.

She holds a Doctorate in Human Resources Management and a Master of Business Administration. She completed professional coach training at UCT and is registered as a PCC coach with the International Coaching Federation. She is a published author of ‘What’s you Tribe – Using the Enneagram at work and life'.

During the last four years, she established her own practice, focused on leadership, resilience, and coaching at both executive and middle management levels.

Life Purpose

"To bring hope and clarity to my clients using my powers of resilience, humour, and life wisdom so that I, my family, and all whom I connect with may have more ease."

Recently, Lee has been supporting many clients virtually, both individuals and groups, within vastly different contexts, to ‘Cope while in Cocooning’ during the lockdown period due to the pandemic.

Image courtesy of iStock/ @fizkes

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