Tend to your body. Memories that stimulate intense emotions or fear from traumatic events can get trapped in our bodies. It is unexplainable moments of feeling tense, anxious, or defensive during non-threatening situations that may mean physically releasing the stress in our bodies is needed. Strategies like deep breathing, massage, and yoga release tension and stress. Therapy can help with unlearning unhealthy reactions to situations.

5. Drop the mask. Sometimes, what is happening today is triggered by hardships and other traumatic things that happened in the past, and it shows up in us, especially within our closest relationships. Let go of pretending to be okay. It will make you vulnerable, but that is how you ultimately become free.

If you are so busy wearing a mask, you may never know the natural causes and solutions to your stress or unhappiness. Remaining guarded might make you feel like everyone is out to criticize, use you or betray you. Being protected may make you miss seeing that some unhealthy beliefs and choices are needed to address. The people that upset us the most have the potential to help us understand ourselves and grow more exponentially than most things. It could be a hidden gift, where you learn areas of your life where you need to address most. A great therapist can help you discover these areas and ways to become more at peace.

6. Learn your family history. There are issues that many families avoid discussing. Topics include financial struggles, mental health challenges, abuse, end of life, etc. Learning our family history can have a positive impact on MANY areas of our lives. For example, knowing which illnesses family members have had can become essential information so that we know how to prevent diseases and better care for ourselves. Sharing DNA frequently means sharing similar biochemistry. Knowing which medications worked well for other family members can be helpful. You may benefit from the same medication option if you have their illness. The same is valid for mental health. Sharing DNA can potentially mean sharing trauma for some. Epigenetic studies revealed that trauma could be stored in DNA and passed down. Knowing their history can explain so much and offer insight into unhealthy family behavioral patterns. The other part of knowing your roots is considering how your childhood might’ve impacted your current needs, stressors, and relationship choices. Consider not only DNA but what or who modeled to you. How did your parents deal with stress growing up? How did they deal with conflict? How did they express love? We’re there addictions? How did they show you they were proud of you? Were there too many rules or too few?

Written by: Natasha D. Oates, Award-winning therapist & marriage counselor

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