Many people are under the impression that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, only affects service members who have experienced trauma in combat. However, anyone can develop PTSD from a wide range of disturbing life experiences, such as traffic accidents, burglary, sexual assault, and physical abuse. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, around 8 million people live with PTSD.
People with PTSD suffer from flashbacks, dissociation, heightened anxiety, and sleeplessness. It often lasts for years after the traumatic event, and the symptoms can severely impair one’s quality of life. Psychological treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and EMDR can keep symptoms under control.
It is possible to live a normal life even with PTSD. Here are a few coping strategies you might want to try:
More and more experts recommend meditation techniques that help encourage mindfulness. People with PTSD often suffer from debilitating anxiety, and mindfulness can help them regain control in the present. Meditation exercises allow people to refocus their attention and suppress intrusive thoughts.
- Deep breathing
Deep breathing is an essential coping skill for people with anxiety or depression. You might be surprised to learn that many people don’t know how to breathe properly. When you breathe in, your abdomen should expand, and the opposite happens when you breathe out. However, some people use their chest and shoulders when breathing, which results in shallow breaths.
Practicing deep breathing can alleviate stress and anxiety. It’s also a great way to keep yourself grounded during flashback episodes.
- Muscle relaxation
Another technique that many health professionals recommend is relaxation exercises. When you feel stress and anxious, your muscles start to tense up. Muscle relaxation involves people alternating between relaxing and tensing their muscles to relieve tension.
You start by your tensing a specific muscle group, then loosening it to release the tension. Eventually, your body will learn to relax on its own when you experience anxiety.
- Social bonding
One of the most effective ways to overcome the symptoms of PTSD is seeking support from other people. It helps to have a partner who will guide you through anxiety and stress. Forming social bonds with fellow survivors also gives you the support you need in difficult times. You can register with a PTSD support group or work alone with a partner.
Some people use writing as a way to cope with their intrusive thoughts and express their feelings. Research has shown that journaling or expressive writing is an effective method to alleviate symptoms of anger and anxiety and can improve long-term psychological health.
- Physical activity
Many people with PTSD swear on physical activity to control their stress and anxiety. Regular workouts can help alleviate symptoms and trigger the production of pleasure-producing hormones.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re running, cycling, or swimming. The important thing is you’re engaging in regular physical activity.
You can’t undo the trauma that caused your PTSD, but you can control the condition. These tips will help you cope with any episodes or symptoms you might experience. Avoid negative coping strategies such as alcohol and recreational drugs, as these could compound your problems and lead to addiction.
Meta title: 6 Coping Strategies for People with PTSD
Meta description: Over 8 million Americans live with PTSD. Here are effective strategies to alleviate your symptoms.