Tips to Help You Manage Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

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People who experience or are witness to a traumatic event can develop post-traumatic distress disorder (PTSD). Traumatic events could be, for example, a serious accident or injury, rape, a natural disaster, receiving death threats or domestic violence. The result of the experience can cause you intense feelings of horror, helplessness or overwhelming fear.

PTSD is common. According to the National Center for PTSD “seven or eight out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some time in their lives”[1]. And women are twice as likely than men to develop PTSD after a traumatic event. It is a psychological disorder that causes you to relive the trauma over and over again through nightmares and flashbacks. As a result, you can tend to isolate yourself from the people and places that remind you of the trauma. You can feel sadness, anger or fear and may feel detached from the world around you.

You do not have to have direct exposure to an event. Just learning about the violent death or horrific accident of a family member or friend is enough to develop PTSD. It can also occur when you have continual exposure to traumatic events; for example, police and first responders.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms

You may have PTSD if you experience the following symptoms after a trauma:

  • Emotional numbness. You may lose interest in your daily life, feel isolated from friends and family, or feel flat or numb.
  • Avoiding anything that reminds of the event. You may avoid anything that reminds you of the trauma — people, places, activities or thoughts as the memories are too painful.
  • Overly tense or alert. You may be irritable for no apparent reason, have trouble sleeping, be easy to startle, have an inability to focus and be constantly alert to any danger.
  • Continually reliving the event. You may continually relive the traumatic event through ongoing nightmares or flashbacks. This can cause you heart palpitations, panic attacks or sweating.

It can be common to experience other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or drug or alcohol abuse when you live with PTSD for a long time.

Internal & External Triggers

When struggling with PTSD, it can be easy to feel fear, anxiety and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. PTSD causes you to experience internal and external triggers:

Internal Triggers Include:

  • Pain
  • Sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Vulnerability
  • Memories

External Triggers Include:

  • Some people
  • Anniversary of the event
  • News programs
  • Locations that bring back memories
  • Television shows or films
  • Certain aromas

While it is normal to avoid triggers, remember you probably cannot avoid them all. So it is important to learn some simple coping strategies.

10 Tips to Manage Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

There are a lot of things you can do to manage the symptoms of PTSD to help you live life normally. Here are 10 tips to help you.

1. Create a support network

When you are trying to cope with PTSD, you can isolate yourself from others. It can be difficult to reach out and ask for support. You may not even know you have PTSD if you have not had a diagnosis. And you may get to the point where coping with the symptoms becomes almost unbearable. It is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. When you know why you feel the way you do, the knowledge empowers you to take action to recover. But you may not be able to do this alone.

Create a support network of people you trust. Let them know your diagnosis and what it means. Ask them if you can contact them when having trouble coping with the symptoms of PTSD.

2. Connect with support services

When you are trying to cope with PTSD, you can isolate yourself from others. It can be difficult to reach out and ask for support. You may not even know you have PTSD if you have not had a diagnosis. And you may get to the point where coping with the symptoms becomes almost unbearable. It is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. When you know why you feel the way you do, the knowledge empowers you to take action to recover. But you may not be able to do this alone.

Create a support network of people you trust. Let them know your diagnosis and what it means. Ask them if you can contact them when having trouble coping with the symptoms of PTSD.

3. Spend time with loved ones

It is not unusual for people with PTSD to avoid other people. You may feel frustrated, anxious and angry and not want to subject the ones you love to the way you feel, or to your angry outbursts and moodiness. You can feel you are better off coping alone. But the people who love you want to support you and it is difficult to avoid the people you live with. When you are like this your loved ones may not know what to do or say to help you especially if you push them away.

Spend time together doing simple things or just talking. But if you are not yet ready to talk, spend time in the same room watching a movie together or reading a book. Just being in the same space as each other can be a comfort.

4. Practice mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can calm your anxiety, fear and other PTSD symptoms. Start with a few minutes a day. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present without passing judgement or feeling fear. Gradually increase the time you practice mindfulness. This will give you more moments of calm. When you feel anxious, fear or overwhelmed, use mindfulness to balance those feelings so your anxiety or fear disappears.

5. Regular exercise

Regular exercise is important to keep your body moving. Get out into the fresh air. Enjoy your natural environment.

Exercise is a great way to break down those negative feelings and it clears your head. You will feel better when you take time out to exercise for at least 10 minutes a day. Exercise is a good antidepressant and relieves anxiety. Keep the following in mind when you start exercising:

  1. Do something you enjoy.
  2. Set small goals to increase your exercise levels.
  3. Try to be consistent.
  4. Listen to music as you exercise.
  5. Ask a family member or a friend to exercise with you.
  6. Remember to have patience with yourself.
  7. Drink plenty of water.
  8. Dress for the weather.

6. Talk to a professional

Talk to a professional such as a psychologist. It can be helpful when struggling with PTSD. The support of a professional is an important part of your long-term recovery. It offers you a safe place to talk about the traumatic event and how it affected you without fear of being judged. And make sure you attend your sessions consistently to help your continual progress towards healing.

7. Write your thoughts in a journal

Talk to a professional such as a psychologist. It can be helpful when struggling with PTSD. The support of a professional is an important part of your long-term recovery. It offers you a safe place to talk about the traumatic event and how it affected you without fear of being judged. And make sure you attend your sessions consistently to help your continual progress towards healing.

8. Talk to your employer

When you have PTSD, it can be difficult to be productive at work. Symptoms such as lack of sleep and difficulty focusing can mean you have trouble making it to work on time, if at all. It will also be difficult to stay organised and concentrate on what you need to achieve.

It can help to talk to your employer about your condition. You need to be willing to talk about your PTSD so people can understand what you are going through and offer support. Some of the things you can discuss with your boss include:

  • Asking for flexible hours
  • Time to collect yourself when you feel fear or overwhelmed
  • Assistance in rearranging your work space so that you feel safe
  • Ask the HR department if the company offers employee assistance programs

9. Voice your needs

Help the people around you understand what you are going through. Instead of saying ‘nothing’, when they ask how they can help, be honest about how you feel and how they can help you.

You will need to be patient with yourself and ask those close to you to also be patient. Set out and maintain healthy boundaries to protect your personal space. Learning how to ask and accept help is a good step towards overcoming your need to isolate yourself.

10. Mitigate lifestyle risks

There are a range of things you can do to help you live your best life while recovering from PTSD. While working with a professional counsellor or psychologist, you can do simple things to help you heal.

While you are healing remember to:

  • Limit your caffeine intake
  • Spend less time watching television and on social media
  • Have a good sleep regime
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Eat healthy, nutritious meals
  • Regularly exercise

If you do not follow these tips, you can put your wellbeing and recovery at risk. Minimising or eliminating lifestyle risks will help you regain your quality of life after experiencing a traumatic experience.

There is help

Managing PTSD can be difficult as it is invisible to others. Everything can become overwhelming and be exhausting dealing with intense fear. But it is important to make an effort to try different techniques to support any medication and therapy. It just may help. Until you do something about your PTSD symptoms, they will continue to have a negative impact on your overall health.

With some simple changes to your life, and practice, you can learn to manage PTSD. Keep your body and mind healthy. Stop avoiding situations that remind you of the traumatic event and create a support network of people to call when you need them. Talk to a professional and let your employer know you have PTSD.

If your PTSD has become a problem, it is time to turn it around. Time to do something positive about it. But it can be a long road to recovery. Seek help. You do not have to go through it alone. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can start taking good care of your mental health.

Reach out

If you are struggling, reach out to our professionals. When you are not coping, contact us. We can talk to you about getting your life back on track. But if you reach a crisis point, call us immediately. We are here to support you.

We can work with you over the phone, via Skype or in our Spas. Book in today for my Emotional Empowerment Program. I have an introductory offer for just $79 so you may start taking back control of your life. We aim to help you cope with your PTSD symptoms and any mental health issues. Our facilitators may alleviate the effects of these so you can start to enjoy life again.

Let me help alleviate the effects of mental health issues

My Emotional Empowerment Program has helped many people like you for more than a decade. My aim is to help you manage your symptoms. This can give you a new hope for the future. A future filled with happiness, peace and contentment in weeks not years. Listen to what Karl has to say about my program after only a few sessions.

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[1]https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp#:~:text=The%20following%20statistics%20are%20based,have%20gone%20through%20a%20trauma.

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