Not drinking and not using seems pretty simple, just don’t pick up and make sure not to overmedicate when prescribed with drugs. It is black and white, you are either loaded or you are not and, with significant sober / clean time, we understand the concept of not relapsing. It does not matter how we feel or what happens to us, we don’t relapse. Mental health, however, may be more complicated, not so black and white.
We know, everyone is different and good mental health is not really specifically defined. We also know having good mental and physical health can make it easier not to be loaded. And we know, just as addiction / alcoholism deserves respect as a dangerous and deadly disease, a person’s past traumas deserve respect too. Honor your experience. One of our counselors, Adam Rich, shares some knowledge from his education about dealing with some (not all) PTSD cases.
1. Mindfulness Techniques
For those struggling with PTSD, living in the moment is extremely difficult. Our brain is trying to subconsciously protect us from the past. Part of moving forward is living in the moment. Whether taking time for yoga or hanging out listening to the birds’ chirp, mindfulness can be anything that pulls you into the present. One simple exercise for this is called the five senses.
- What are 5 things that you can see?
- What are 4 things that you can hear?
- What are 3 things you can feel?
- What are 2 things that you can smell?
- What is 1 thing that you taste?
2. Create your Safe Space
People coping with PTSD will experience triggers when they feel unsafe, so create your own safe space or “safety pack.”
- Safe Space – Make a room in your home your safe place. Find a candle with a comforting scent. This could be a candle that reminds you of the ocean, the forest, or any comforting / safe event in your past, the possibilities are endless. Maybe have a thick plush blanket (weighted blankets work well too) you can wrap around yourself. Whatever it is, just make sure it feels safe to you.
- Safety Pack – This is helpful for those on the go. Get a backpack and instead of a candle find some lotion that has a “safe” smell. Put your favorite snacks in there. Add a fidget spinner (something to help distract you from the trigger). Anything you use on the go can be perfect for your safety pack.
3. Move a Muscle
Also for people coping with PTSD, one of the methods that is strongly recommended for regulating the body’s physiological response to trauma triggers is bilateral stimulation. By “moving a muscle,” you are quite literally activating the parts of the body that control the resetting of homeostasis. Simply put, you are counteracting the subconscious trauma response by getting your body back into its normal state. Go for a walk, do some cleaning around the house, anything that will use both sides of your body. Plus, as a bonus, this will release endorphins which will help you feel good in general. So, it’s a win win.