A trauma anniversary is the date that a traumatic event or experience happened. On that date, each year, your brain and mind may replay images, sensations, and emotions that you originally experienced with the trauma.
Traumatic experiences activate several regions of the brain, including the amygdala (which processes emotions and fear responses) and the hippocampus (which is responsible for memory formation and retrieval). This means that the memories of the trauma will be stored in the brain (and body) for a long time, or until you address it.
For example, somebody who experienced a traumatic event on a particular date, may continue to feel the same emotional and physical sensations as the initial trauma on that day each year, even if they don’t consciously know why they’re feeling that way.
Trauma anniversaries can seem scary and a little confusing and although trauma memories are stored in the subconscious mind, you can learn coping strategies to manage trauma anniversary triggers and heal from the trauma.
Here are a few things you can do to help manage trauma anniversaries as they arise:
seek professional help to allow you to move through and process the trauma
acknowledge the anniversary and allowing yourself to feel any emotions as they come up
plan ahead by taking a day off of work, explaining to loved one’s why you may feel ‘off’ and practise a lot of self-care
take it easy on yourself and offer so much kindness, compassion and love as you move through the day
Trauma anniversaries can feel really hard, but with time and healing, the impact of the anniversary can be lessened.
With love & support,
Shorina | Mindful Soul Collective
Counsellor & Wellbeing Coach