Self-Care for Survivors

Survivors of abuse often face day-to-day challenges on their path to healing. Advocates and counselors at The Center for Family Safety and Healing understand the importance of self-care during this process, and often recommend a variety of self-care activities to clients. From relaxation apps to journaling techniques, these quick tips from our experts can make a big difference.

Mindfulness Apps
There are dozens of free (apps have free content, but users have the option to “unlock” the premium versions for an annual cost) mindfulness apps available to iPhone and Android users. Some apps to consider downloading include:

Happify – provides effective, evidence-based tools and programs to help users take control of feelings and build resilience. (

Pacifica – Users have access to daily tools to track and combat stress, anxiety and depression. This app is based on cognitive behavioral therapy and mindful meditation. (

Calm – Many users enjoy this app in the evening before bed, as it focuses on meditation and relaxation, and is equipped with calming nature sounds. Calm boasts a unique feature called “Sleep Stories” where well-known voices read soothing tales to help users unwind and fall into deep sleep. (

Headspace – Users can sign up and download the “The Basics”, which is a 10-day meditation series for free. This app teaches users to build new habits. Short on time? Headspace offers “Minis”, which are 3 minutes or shorter, and include exercises like Restore, Breathe and Refresh. (

Better Sleep
Sleep is extremely important when it comes to our ability to cope and think clearly. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 adults don’t get the recommended amount (7 hours) of sleep each night.

Check out the two apps below to assist with a better night’s sleep:

Relax Melodies (to assist with sleep) – Designed to help users get a complete night’s sleep with relaxing sounds, combined with melodies. App users are able to creating their own mixes and then share them with the Relax Melodies community.

Sleep Cycle – Tracks and analyzes sleep patterns. The app uses a phone microphone to pick up on movement using sound and vibration analyses. Users can learn if they are in light sleep, deep sleep or a dream state, or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

Sometimes referred to as positive affirmations, these short statements are often spoken and repeated to encourage and uplift someone. Behavioral Health professional encourage trauma survivors to practice speaking and writing positive affirmations daily. Affirmations often give the survivor a sense of control back, as it allows them to re-write their personal narrative. Saying or writing things like “I am worthy” or “I am not a quitter” can help overpower a survivor’s negative thoughts, often brought upon them by their abuser.

Journaling is a safe and private way for many survivors to begin processing their trauma, especially painful details that they aren’t ready to share with others yet. The American Psychological Association (APA) tells us that writing about emotions and stress can improve mood, health and the ability to function. (

Survivors may feel intimidated by a journal full of hundreds of blank pages, unsure of how to begin. And that is okay. Today, there are journals with prompts that help with this. A great example is Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration by Meera Lee Patel – an interactive journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, mindfulness and self-motivation. This guided journal presents supportive prompts and exercises, along with inspiration quotes to encourage reflection through writing, drawing and chart-making. Start Where You Are is available for purchase via Amazon and at most Barnes & Noble locations.

Brain Dump
Brain Dumping is a simpler form of writing, as it takes less time than traditional journaling. A Brain Dump is where someone takes 5 minutes each day, typically in the evening, to sit down with a journal or paper to write everything on their mind. This can include positive and negative things, as well as to-dos like chores and errands. In a broader sense, this 5 minutes of open writing can be used to pinpoint daily stressors, anxiety or ideas/goals that they want to spend more time on. TCFSH therapist, Amanda, tells us that her clients usually do their Brain Dump writing before bed, to try to empty their mind. Clients often feel more relaxed after this activity because they have everything they need to remember on paper.


The Importance of Self-Care
TED Talk:

Self-Care for Women

Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) Self-Care Corner
50 Ways to Take a Break (printable):


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