When a person chooses to have an abortion, she does so believing that ending her pregnancy is her best or only option. But many women are surprised to find themselves struggling with post-abortion stress in the wake of this decision. It’s normal to have painful thoughts and feelings about an unexpected pregnancy and a subsequent abortion. Perhaps you’re experiencing guilt, grief, rage, or any number of other symptoms. Maybe you just don’t feel at peace… with your situation, with yourself, or with others.
Under circumstances like these, it’s natural to feel stuck in a rut. Discovering freedom from the burden of post-abortion stress is a process that may not come to fruition without dedicated effort. Some people who’ve had an abortion wrestle with feelings of shame, which discourage them from seeking support. If this sounds like your situation, know that there’s hope! It is possible to find healing and peace of mind. There are small and significant steps you can take to move in this healthy direction, no matter what challenges and choices have been a part of your story.
Self-care is one way to pursue emotional healing, with many different possibilities built into it. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.” Consider these key tips from NIMH!
- Exercise regularly. Just a little bit of movement every day can be surprisingly beneficial for your mood and your physical health.
- Eat well and hydrate. Maintain a balanced diet. Put good things into your body. This will help you feel energized and alert.
- Get an appropriate amount of sleep. And try to maintain a routine. Limit distractions and stimulating sights and sounds when it’s time to get ready for bed.
- Look for ways to relax. Examples could include meditation, journaling, or taking a walk in nature. You’ll probably need to be intentional about carving out time for relaxation. That’s never something to feel guilty about!
- Create goals for yourself. Set short-term goals for your day and long-term goals for your life. Construct boundaries that are needed in order to accomplish these goals.
- Practice thankfulness. Make a list of things in your life that you’re grateful for.
- Monitor your thoughts. Learn to recognize and challenge unhealthy thoughts. Replace them with hopeful thoughts.
- Seek support. When it comes to healing from a difficult abortion experience, building a foundation of emotional support is vital. Consider sharing your story with someone caring and trustworthy, like a family member, counselor, or mentor.
Self-care may be one important component of your healing process. It will likely be most effective if you implement a variety of self-care practices on a regular basis. However, on their own, these tips may not be enough to discover healing from an emotionally painful abortion experience. Sometimes it’s necessary to address the past head-on. At Restore, we’re committed to helping individuals find deep, lasting clarity and peace of mind. This often means taking the brave step of processing the abortion and all the feelings that have come with it. Restore provides a safe and confidential space to do just that. Our compassionate leaders are available to partner with you on your own healing journey.
Reach out to learn more! We provide opportunities to meet one-on-one with a highly trained leader, or in a support group setting. Our program is free of charge!
National Institute of Mental Health. (2022, December). Caring for Your Mental Health. Retrieved from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health