Each day can be a struggle when living with PTSD. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that develops after a traumatic event that causes prolonged fear, emotional and physical stress, and vivid flashbacks. Many people associate PTSD to military members and veterans, specifically men above the age of 16. But PTSD knows no age or gender and impacts approximately 8 million Americans every year.
There are ways to cope with PTSD that help make each day less of a struggle. Follow these suggestions to help manage your PTSD on a daily basis.
People with PTSD experience higher levels of stress and anxiety. It is very important for these individuals to find time in their day for prayer, meditation, or other mindfulness techniques. This can be helpful for the strength of our body and mind. If it seems daunting or impossible, remember there is no right way to perform these tasks. Just to find calmness within yourself.
Experts suggest beginning with one or two minutes per day of quiet mindfulness. The goal of that time is to stay focused on the present without any threat of fear or judgment. Gradually add more time as you go, offering yourself moments to experience a sense of calm and learn how to balance yourself if you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious.
Moving our bodies and getting fresh air can be beneficial in coping with PTSD. Exercise helps regulate mood and emotions. Just as it is important to learn how to calm your mind, it is also important to get your body moving. Research shows that physical exercise helps our brains better cope with stress. Just a 10-minute walk per day can benefit our mood and help to relieve anxiety and depression. Here are some things to keep in mind as you get started:
- Find an activity you enjoy
- Set small goals
- Be consistent
- Listen to music or podcasts
- Ask a friend to join you
- Be patient with yourself
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Make sure to dress for the weather
Participate in Counseling for PTSD
Talking with a professional such as a counselor or therapist can be very helpful when you are struggling with PTSD, even if it might feel a bit intimidating.
A key element to long term success is talking to a trained person who is available to offer support and guidance in your recovery. Find someone you feel comfortable with, that you find trustworthy and knowledgeable, and be consistent in attending your sessions.
Keep a Journal
Journaling is a helpful technique to help people relax and collect their thoughts. It offers a place to go back and reflect on past experiences. Research shows that people who keep a journal decrease occurrences of flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive memories. Journaling helps them slowly reconnect to people and places that they may otherwise want to avoid.
Other coping strategies include:
Flashbacks can be very distressing, but there are things you can do that might help. You could:
- Focus on your breathing. When you are frightened, breathing becomes abnormal. This increases feelings of fear and panic. It’s important to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five.
- Carry an object that reminds you of the present. Some people find it helpful to touch or look at a particular object during a flashback. Keep something that brings your calmness and peace in your purse or pocket to help when an unsettling thought appears.
- Tell yourself that you are safe. It may be hard to think you are safe during a flashback. If so, write it down on a piece of paper and keep it close and read it while you are feeling unsettled.
- Comfort yourself. Curl up in a blanket, cuddle with a pet, listen to soothing music or watch your favorite movie.
- Keep a diary. Making a note of what happens when you have a flashback could help you spot patterns in what triggers these experiences for you. You might also learn to notice early signs as they are beginning to happen.
- Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can keep you connected to the present and help you cope with flashbacks or intrusive thoughts. For example, you could describe your surroundings out loud or count objects of a particular type or color. (See our page on self-care for dissociative disorders for more information on grounding techniques.)
Ketamine Infusion Therapy for PTSD
Research shows Ketamine Infusion Therapy can help ease anxiety and depression linked to PTSD. Do you struggle with PTSD, or depression and anxiety related to your PTSD? We’d love to meet you and see if Ketamine Infusion Therapy may help you. rrkwc.com/depression-treatment-in-lawton-ok/.