Traumatic life incidents can engrave feelings of fright, guilt, and worthlessness into our memories. These events can shape how we see the world and ourselves.
If you’re struggling to cope with the aftermath of a traumatic experience, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People associate PTSD with sexual assault and physical injuries. But the condition can also result from non-physical trauma, such as witnessing a natural disaster or the sudden death of a loved one.
There are many ways to heal the hurt caused by trauma. The key is to find what works for you. Some people find relief with medication and therapy, while others find solace in support groups or writing about their experiences. Since your experience is personal, your treatment will be too.
If you’re looking for ways to begin your healing journey, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Challenge your sense of helplessness
The memories of the traumatic incident never completely disappear. The constant fear of it repeating can leave you feeling helpless. But you are not powerless. You can do things to reduce your anxiety and take control of your life. That’s the power tool for beating PTSD.
Educating yourself about the condition is the best way to reclaim your control. When you know more about what you’re dealing with, your fears may start to fade. You can also take practical steps to prepare for triggers and manage your symptoms. Acquire PTSD treatment information from reliable sources and see how you can incorporate it into your life.
Talk about what happened
For many people, talking about a traumatic event is a crucial part of the healing process. It allows you to share your story and be heard. When you keep your trauma bottled up, it can fester and cause even more damage. Talking about your experience can help you make sense of it and move on.
If you’re not ready to talk to a therapist, you can confide in a friend or family member. Just be sure it’s someone you trust. You can also join a support group for people with PTSD. It can be a safe space to share your experiences and connect with others with similar conditions.
Find an outlet for your emotions
PTSD can cause intense emotions, such as anger, sadness, and fear. These feelings can be overwhelming and hard to deal with. When you don’t have an outlet for your emotions, they can lead to destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse and self-harm.
It’s important to find positive ways to express your emotions. Some people find relief through exercise, art, or writing. Others find comfort in nature or spending time with animals. Experiment until you find an activity that helps you release your emotions in a healthy way. Don’t be afraid to push your boundaries and try new things.
Support your physical health
When your mind is constantly stressed, it can take a toll on your physical health. PTSD can cause headaches, digestive problems, and insomnia. It can also worsen existing conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. For this reason, it’s essential to incorporate physical activity into your PTSD treatment plan.
Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It can also help you sleep better and improve your overall well-being. The idea is to shift your focus from pain and anxiety to pleasure and positive sensation.
Rock climbing and martial arts, for instance, require you to be in the present moment. It can help you stay grounded and distracted from your intrusive thoughts. Yoga and meditation are also beneficial for people with PTSD. They teach you how to control and focus your thoughts.
Eat foods that boost your spirits
What you eat can significantly impact your mood. Processed foods, sugar, and caffeine can make anxiety worse. While there’s no magic diet for PTSD, eating nutritious foods can help improve your symptoms.
Fatty fish, like salmon, is enriched with omega-3s that can lower levels of depression and anxiety. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and sauerkraut can also help improve your mood. They promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, which is linked to good mental health.
In addition, dark chocolate contains flavonoids that can reduce stress levels. And tryptophan-rich foods, such as turkey and bananas, can help you sleep better. A good night’s sleep is crucial for managing PTSD.
People often feel unloved and unsupported after a traumatic event. These feelings feed on their happiness and peace. Therefore, it’s important to remind yourself that your suffering doesn’t define you. But instead of depending on others for validation, you must start from within.
Engage in activities that make you feel joyous. Spend time shopping, cooking, or reading. Get a massage or take a relaxing bath. Listen to music, watch your favorite movie, or visit a place that brings back happy memories. It’s also essential to eat healthy foods and get enough sleep. When you take care of yourself, you power up your resilience and ability to heal.
Get professional help
It can take months or years for you to work through your PTSD. Some people never completely recover. That’s why it’s vital to get professional assistance. A therapist can offer guidance and support as you work through your trauma.
Like there are different forms of PTSD, from racial to sexual, there are different types of therapy. The most effective PTSD treatments are a combination of different therapies. Your therapist will likely use a mix of exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). The focus ranges from meeting your fears head-on to reframing how you think about the traumatic event.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
- CBT helps you understand how your thoughts and beliefs affect your emotions and behavior. Once you’re aware of the negative thinking patterns, you can start to change them. It can help reduce your anxiety and improve your mood.
- This therapy involves slowly and safely exposing yourself to the thoughts, emotions, and situations you’re avoiding. The goal is to help you see that your fears are manageable and no longer have control over you.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
- This therapy uses a combination of eye movements and other forms of stimulation to help you process and reprocess the trauma. The goal is to help you see the memory in a new, less distressing way.
PTSD is a severe condition that can profoundly affect your life. But there’s no better ally in your battle against PTSD than yourself. When you take care of your mind and body, you’re better equipped to handle whatever challenges come your way. It’s okay to take as much time as you need to heal. But know that with each passing day, you’re getting stronger and closer to the person you used to be. You got this.