Recovering From Abuse – Why A Digital Vacation Can Aid Your Health

Written by Jennifer Malley

Forbes note that nearly 60% of 15 to 25-year-olds report having been the victim of online harassment and abuse, and on top of this, many other people each year are stalked, harassed and restrictively monitored through digital technology. However, abuse isn’t over the minute the abuse itself is over – the traumatic effects can linger for some time, and this can be exacerbated by the constant onslaught of news, ideas, opinions and contacts we are bombarded with every day through digital connections. Reclaiming your mental and physical health after abuse can be a slow and difficult process, so knowing what to expect and the best ways to tackle each stage of recovery (both emotionally and in terms of adapting your lifestyle) is really important. 

Look after you

Once you’ve moved away from an abusive situation, you may find that you experience a low period of anti-climax, grief, pain and loss as it starts to feel safe to feel again. According to Psychology Today, just like a bereavement, the damage to self-esteem and confidence – and perhaps a sense of having been betrayed by someone who was meant to care about you – can lead to a rush of feelings that will take time to process. Give yourself space to consider and understand all your thoughts and behaviors – the ones you’d like to build upon, and the ones that you want to let go of too. 

Often it can be tempting to make big changes and to reinvent yourself and your life, perhaps by looking for a new job, studying something different or joining new groups and activities. While it might be tempting to surround yourself with others (especially if you’re used to having someone else around), remember the importance of having time to yourself to think and reflect. Identifying new goals is really useful, but try to move slowly and steadily, pacing yourself and focusing on what you need and want rather than what others might expect or recommend. Staying away from the internet and social media will mean you can focus solely on yourself without external influence. Thinking about your goals and ambitions for the future and how you might achieve them can help you to break down the process into smaller steps, and pace yourself with a realistic timescale that offers other goals along the way.

Get away from it all

Put aside your phone or computer, and step outside the confines of everyday life… the work, study, chores, school runs and meetings… to make sure you have space and time for yourself each day. Outdoor activities can be rewarding and energizing, and also help to boost both your physical and mental health – picking something you are good at and also enjoy is the key to beginning a new programme of exercise and exploration you’ll stick with until you see the benefits. Research demonstrates that even the shortest time spent in nature can assist you to put aside stress, clear your mind, and reduce your blood pressure, leaving you stronger and more able to deal with issues that arise the rest of the time. 

The road to recovery may feel long and overwhelming, but taking time out for yourself can help you to identify where you want to get to, and the most effective way to get there. Emotional and physical exploration, exercise, and keeping your phone switched off can all support a strategy which will ultimately allow you to learn to love yourself again.