Think about the veteran returning from war, the horrific and overwhelming experiences they had. Experiences where their autonomic nervous system (fight-or-flight) was propelling them to escape, but they could not.
This often causes a dissociation from reality, the only way to escape these horrific experiences.
Yet, Trauma leaves a lasting impact on our immune system, autonomic nervous system, and our memory. This impact on memory can truly propel the sufferer back to the very moment of trauma. Forcing the sufferer to re-experience real events in everyday experiences.From Trauma and Memory Blog
Living with PTSD can feel overwhelming, but it is possible to live a healthy life with PTSD. If you are struggling with PTSD you should seek out treatment that works best for you to best manage your symptoms of PTSD
When symptoms of trauma persist and involve experiences of flashbacks of the traumatic event/s, nightmares, high physiological arousal, intrusive thoughts, and avoiding/numbing, you might be experiencing symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).From PTSD Blog
. In addition to getting professional treatment, here are six ways to navigate living with PTSD.
6 Ways to Live a Healthy Life with PTSD
1. Grounding Yourself & Stay Present
Grounding techniques are a great way to keep you connected to the present. When you feel flooded with those memories you can remind yourself that you are safe, and the trauma is over. Start identifying things in your surroundings, name three colors you see, or start counting objects. This will help you stay connected to your current environment versus being sucked back into the environment of your trauma.
Another tool for staying present can be to carry an object that grounds you and remind you of the present. When you feel pulled back to your trauma, you can touch or look at the object to remind yourself that you are not there anymore and that you are okay.
Mindfulness is another hot topic nowadays, but it can be extremely helpful. It is a way to become more in-tuned with your body and its surroundings. It can be another tool to stay present. Focus on your breathing, you might realize you haven’t breathed in a while or that your breath is fast. Count your breaths and concentrate on them to regulate them.
2. Learn your Triggers
Better understanding and getting to know your own triggers is so important. This allows you to be better prepared when engaging with others and in new environments.
For example, when we know the Fourth of July is coming up and we become startled and experience flashbacks when we hear the loud noise of the fireworks. It will be important to be prepared in reminding yourself, it is the fourth of July, America is celebrating its independence, I am not in danger, I am not back in war fighting for my life, and I can be present for this moment.
When first attempting to identify one’s triggers, you can start by keeping a notebook or a diary. Make a note of what happens when you experience a flashback or feeling overwhelmed. What happens after? What happened before? Did you notice any patterns you engage in?
3. Practice Patience with Yourself
Practice kindness with yourself. Give yourself time. Healing is not linear, there will be many twists and turns in your journey. That is okay.
Don’t make comparisons with others, they are on a different journey than you. You deserve patience and kindness as you navigate your experiences.
4. Confide in Someone
Don’t underestimate the power of a positive support system. It is so important to have people in your life that you can confide in when you are feeling overwhelmed. Another possibility for you to explore is a therapy animal.
5. Join a Support Group
You are not alone and there is no better way to understand that than attending a support group with others who are experiencing similar things.
Invite your family and friends to come too. This can help them to gain a better understanding of your disorder and better support you through your recovery.
6. Make Time For You
Self-care and prioritizing yourself is not selfish, it is critical. Engaging in activities that we enjoy allows us to recharge and we need a full battery in order to live a healthy life with PTSD.
Self-care can look very different for every individual. Think about what you enjoy doing or what makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe that is setting aside time to read, preparing a healthy meal, engaging in that dance class, meeting your friends for dinner, taking care of your physical health, or cozying up with a blanket and listening to music.
Whatever those things are, make time for them. Make them priorities because you are a priority!
We hope that you found 6 Ways to Live a Healthy Life with PTSD helpful. If you have experienced Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and want to engage in trauma-informed care, please feel free to contact Dr. Kendal Vaarwerk for a free and confidential consultation with her, after which, together, we can decide your preferred next steps. She looks forward to hearing from you!