If you or someone you know has gone through a traumatic experience, you may be aware of how difficult it can be to try and move forward. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an incredibly common outcome of trauma, and while it can seem impossible to try and work on coping strategies, the truth is that there are many ways to find relief.
This post will explore five effective ways to alleviate symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. Though living with PTSD can still be challenging even with these strategies, handling its symptoms makes all the difference in improving your quality of life.
Keep reading to learn simple but effective methods for managing PTSD in daily life.
1. Establish a Trust Circle
One symptom of PTSD involves the lack of desire to participate in activities. One such activity is connecting with friends, family and the people dear to you, which can pull you out of the anger, depression and anxiety brought about by the condition.
Although reconnecting and socialising may take a lot of effort, living with PTSD will be easier when you reach out to the people you love. So establish a circle with those you can trust with your story. People who care about you will gladly lend an ear, a shoulder to lean on and a helping hand to pull you out of your overwhelming thoughts and emotions.
2. Make Mindfulness a Habit
While being alone may seem sad, there are some benefits to it. In the absence of your trust circle, find solace in practising mindfulness, which involves being in the present moment.
The effects of PTSD can burden your mind with worries and negative thoughts that keep you from enjoying the present. That’s why mindfulness, when practised regularly, is beneficial—it trains the brain to focus on the present, drive away irrational negative thoughts and appreciate the current moment.
Mindfulness can be in the form of deep breathing and meditation. Practise becoming fully aware of your body, your environment and your present thoughts. It can also be through journaling, where you write out all your thoughts and feelings to sort them out.
3. Practise Deep Breathing and Muscle Relaxation
As you manage the pessimistic thoughts, relax your body as well. PTSD causes muscles to tense because it triggers our fight-or-flight response. When flashbacks, nightmares, anger and difficulties in sleeping make your muscles stiff, manage it with deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
Follow these steps to do deep breathing properly.
- Breathe in through your nose, and let the air fill your belly. Your diaphragm and belly should expand as you breathe in and shrink as you breathe out. You’ll notice this better if you place your hand on your tummy.
- Take deep breaths until you feel more relaxed.
- You can also close your eyes and think or utter a mantra.
Mindfully switching from a tense to a relaxed state is an effective process for muscle relaxation. Eventually, you will train your muscles to relax after straining them when PTSD symptoms occur.
4. Take Prescribed Medication
Many PTSD patients undergo a stage of denial. They don’t believe they have the condition, so they refuse to take medication.
Medications can help a lot in addressing the symptoms of PTSD. Usually, doctors prescribe antidepressants to help patients sleep better, avoid nightmares and minimise flashbacks. These also help patients relax and keep anger, anxiety and depression at bay.
Specific prescriptions depend on the doctor’s diagnosis and decision, so it’s best to consult an expert psychiatrist. Following the prescribed dosage is also a must to avoid withdrawal symptoms and regression.
5. Seek Professional Help
While the tips above are helpful, having a trained therapist to guide you in overcoming PTSD is invaluable. You can complement personal practices with one-on-one or group trauma therapy with a trauma therapist.
Here are some psychotherapy approaches that may be beneficial to you.
- Mindfulness-based exposure therapy involves safe exposure to the trauma while a therapist helps the patient cope with the triggered thoughts and feelings.
- Cognitive restructuring involves a therapist making the patient remember the traumatic event to see it in a different light.
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive therapy can help individuals control their emotions when intrusive memories arise.
- Meditation-relaxation is a calming and relaxing practice that allows patients to free their minds and bodies from stress.
- Mantra repetition practice involves the utterance of constructive phrases while meditating.
Find Support from Awaken’s Mental Health and Counselling Services
Easing the impact of PTSD is possible with the help of the techniques listed above. Trauma-focused therapy, medications, mindfulness practice and deep breathing exercises are powerful and can make all the difference in your PTSD recovery. Explore different options and sources of support to find what’s most helpful for you.
Professional help is advisable if you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope, and we at Awaken Counselling Centre are highly experienced with post-traumatic stress disorder. We can assist people with PTSD in getting back on their feet through our counselling services.
Remember: you are not alone, and we are here to support you.