Coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can manifest in many ways. Left unmanaged, PTSD can wreak havoc in your life and harm your mental and physical health, professional success, and personal relationships. While anxiety is one of the most common symptoms, a person with PTSD is at higher risk of developing several other disorders, including depression, eating disorders, insomnia, and delusion. Some people can feel highly isolated, have problems keeping a job or become resistant to trusting others. Without proper care, these symptoms can lead to unhealthy coping methods, like alcohol or drug abuse.

While it may be tempting to indulge in unhealthy coping mechanisms, some healthy alternatives are just as accessible. Following these methods may help to reduce the intensity of your anxiety and make your symptoms more tolerable. Learning and implementing healthier strategies for coping with PTSD can rejuvenate your perspective and help you regain a sense of control over your life.

Educate Yourself on PTSD

PTSD is a highly personal battle, and many people who struggle with it do so in private. They may be afraid of being judged or stuck in denial. Some people simply don’t realize that they face an issue severe enough to change their lives forever. If you have reason to think that you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, research more on the disorder and find a safe way to discuss it openly. Once you better understand what you’re dealing with, you’ll be able to recognize the symptoms, combat destructive behaviors, and get effective help for yourself or your loved one.

Take a Deep Breath

There are as many methods for coping as there are mental disorders that require them.  One coping strategy, in particular, is universally powerful and can be combined with any of your efforts. Practice breathing deeply, drawing on the power of your diaphragm. Even though you’ve been breathing for your entire life, it can be easy to forget the impact that you can have by focusing on drawing steady, strong breaths. Your belly should rise when you breathe in and fall when you breathe out. Breathing without thinking can cause you to take short, shallow breaths that can contribute to stress and anxiety. Start taking control of your mental stability by relearning to breathe deeply and induce calm throughout your body and mind.

Monitor Your Emotions

As you begin to monitor your thoughts and emotions, you’ll develop accountability for yourself. Self-monitoring is a healthy way to gain more control over your PTSD symptoms. It can be easy to spend an entire day going through the motions and ignoring how you feel. Living your life detached from your emotions puts you at much higher risk for letting your emotions develop unpredictably until they are no longer manageable. The first step to addressing uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety, depression, and emotional instability is to intentionally observe and analyze how you feel. Paying attention to your thoughts and feelings as they occur will raise your awareness of your inner state, allowing you to help yourself and explain what you’re experiencing to a professional.

Help Your Body Relax

Relaxing your body is an effective means of easing your mental stress and anxiety. Consider using yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, a method of alternating between tensing and relaxing different muscles throughout your body. If you are dealing with severe anxiety due to PTSD, chances are your muscles get tense pretty frequently. Using bodily relaxation techniques can help remind you how it feels to allow your muscles to be completely relaxed and may even help you sleep more soundly. Consult with a healthcare professional or local resources to learn the most helpful relaxation practices and resources for your unique needs.

Build a Strong Support System

After investing in your relationship with your emotions, the next step is to connect with in-person and online resources where you can meet people who relate to your experiences. Look into support groups, classes, and local meetings to avoid the isolation that only sharpens your pain. Take the opportunity to learn how other people cope with their PTSD and observe the different stages of their healing journeys. Your peers can provide insight into managing your symptoms and which treatment methods have worked for them.

Whenever you are ready, you can also explore other forms of supportive relationships with people who care for you deeply despite being unable to relate to your experiences. Spending time with your friends and family can not only make a massive difference in your outlook on life but also gives you all the opportunity to reconnect and recognize the importance of your shared bond. Simple steps like going for a walk, talking on the phone, going to dinner, and playing card games are healthy ways to get started.

Battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a difficult, prolonged process that can cause you to grapple with the other mental health symptoms that arise because of it. PTSD can cause depression, anxiety, and a domino effect of other issues. If you or a loved one struggles with any of these mental health challenges, it is important to educate yourself to find the most effective ways to cope. Do your research, get in touch with your emotions, understand your triggers, and start taking small steps like focusing on your breathing and practicing exercises to relax your body. If your symptoms interfere in your life and you have turned to drugs or alcohol to cope, reach out to Kimberly Center for professional help. Our mission is to work with you on an individual level to provide the care you need to overcome your co-occurring disorder and live the life you deserve. You don’t have to struggle on your own any longer. Contact us at (855) 452-3683 to learn more.

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