4 Daily Suggestions for Coping with PTSD, in general, from one of our Counselors, Adam Rich:
What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition, in which the victim witnesses or survives a terrifying situation but their brain cannot process the trauma in a healthy way. For those who can’t process what has happened to them, certain events (even those which are not inherently dangerous) can trigger a physiological reaction, which leaves them with an inability to move forward in life. It feels as though the traumatic event will happen again at any moment. While therapy is necessary for true healing from PTSD, these four steps can be taken daily to help with the coping process.
PTSD COPING SKILLS:
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?
While doing this exercise, it helps you focus on what is around you in the moment and brings you back to the present.
2. Move a Muscle.
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.
3. Don’t forget to Breathe
I know, this sounds cliché, right? But when facing a trauma response breathing becomes heavier, which means blood flow is restricted and we are not getting the amount of oxygen we need. Try some box breathing.
- Inhale for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Exhale for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Repeat this process 4 times.
Focusing on controlling your breathing not only helps regulate your body back to “normal” but it can also serve to distract you from whatever triggered you in the first place.
4. Don’t Give Up.
When it comes to coping with PTSD, it takes time to heal. Be patient and give yourself grace. You are healing from something and that takes time so do not give up. Sometimes with PTSD coping strategies, we struggle with setbacks, and it makes us want to admit defeat but remember anything worth having is worth fighting for. With trauma therapy, we learn to use PTSD coping skills.