Daily tips if you live with PTSD
Are you struggling with PTSD? Have you endured a traumatic event that has caused difficulties in your life? Looking for effective coping strategies to help you work through?
If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone. While the numbers are somewhat scattered, current estimates suggest approximately thirteen million Americans live with this anxiety disorder.
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, you already know about its debilitating effects. What follows are twelve small things you can do each day to encourage wellness.
Some of these may sound silly. Others might cause you to pause and think. That’s OK. Read them all to get the most from the experience.
1. Use body awareness
When you wake up in the morning and your brain starts rattling off a “To Do” list, take a deep breath. Then, focus your awareness on your body.
Using your sense of sight, touch, and sound, identify what’s going on around you. This can help you avoid feelings of panic and doom.
2. Engage in daily gratitude
Find something – no matter how small – to be grateful for. Examples being grateful for a close friendship or giving thanks for the support of a family member.
Gratitude helps to train your mind to focus on the positive instead of the negative.
3. Get in a dose of humor
Read your favorite comic strip or find a silly meme page on social media. You can even download apps that are designed to help you get your funny on.
The goal is to laugh and get outside of your head.
4. Carry fruit with you
PTSD is considered an anxiety disorder. As a way of coping, you may turn to nervous eating as a way of coping. In turn, this can translate into scarfing down whatever is in front of you, even if it’s unhealthy.
As an alternative, consider carrying fruit with you, like apples or pears. Not only are these types of snacks good for you, they also deliver important vitamins to your body.
5. Practice progressive muscle relaxation
One of the best ways to promote inner-calmness is to engage in progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). By doing so, you train your body to cope with anxiety in healthy, meaningful ways.
PMR doesn’t take long – just five or ten minutes. You can learn more about this relaxation technique by visiting this body scan article.
6. Lean into your PTSD
When you are feeling anxious, don’t try to pretend your emotions don’t exist. Instead, lean into your nervousness and use it to your advantage.
Wash your car by hand or clean out the garage. The idea is to do something constructive that benefits you in the long run. When you embrace your emotions, they paradoxically become less intense. Here are 10 smart ways to cope with fear and anxiety.
7. Reduce or avoid alcohol intake
Let’s be real. Alcohol can have a calming effect. The reason is simple – it’s a central nervous system depressant. But did you know that too much alcohol can ramp up your anxiety? Yep, it’s true and over the course of time, it can make you feel worse.
If you are having more than a few drinks a week, consider cutting back. Doing so may help you stay calmer over the long run and de-intensify panic when it rears its ugly head.
8. Focus on one thing at a time
When you are living with PTSD, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is particularly true when tasks start to pile up and it triggers your anxiety.
One of the best things you can do is to simply focus on one thing at a time. This means giving yourself permission to let the other things wait.
9. Spend time in nature
Do you spend time outdoors on a regular basis? If the answer is no, maybe you should. That’s because research tells us that being around nature has restorative and healing effects.
No need to pack for a camping trip to make this happen. You can simply go for a hike at your local nature preserve or sit on a bench at an outdoor park.
10. Cut back on the coffee
If you are drinking multiple cups of java each day, consider cutting back. As you probably know, caffeine is a stimulant. Do you really need to be charged up more than you already are?
As an alternative, try switching to a 50/50 blend. Doing so will help you get in your coffee fix without feeling like something is being taken away from you.
11. Get in physical activity
One of the safest, most effective ways to cope with anxiety is to engage in physical activity. We know from medical research that moving the body helps to encourage a sense of calmness and teaches the mind how to de-stress.
No need to become a bodybuilder. Simple weight bearing exercises with dumbbells or resistance bands can do wonders. You can also go for a long walk or jog on a treadmill. Like most things in life, moderation is key.
12. Don’t be ashamed of your PTSD
When you try to fool yourself into thinking your PTSD doesn’t exist, you engage in the psychological distortion of denial. While this may work temporarily, it can make things worse in the long run.
Instead, learn to accept that PTSD is part of your life. This is a core component of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
By accepting PTSD, its grip lessens and so does the accompanying shame.
If you live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, it’s important to engage in self-care. This means choosing things that nurture your mind, body, and spirit.
If you are looking for other practical things you can do to help yourself, consider picking up a copy of the PTSD Workbook by therapists Williams and Poijula (See Amazon ).
Inside, you’ll find many different activities and exercises designed to encourage healing.