Makana Path Blog

January 15, 2021

Self-Care for PTSD | 7 Tools for Managing Traumatic Stress

managing traumatic stress

When you have experienced a trauma, you may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although PTSD is typically associated with the military or with first responders, anyone who has been exposed to a traumatic experience, regardless of the intensity, can suffer from PTSD symptoms. Seeking professional help for your PTSD is the best first step. Self-care for PTSD should be practiced as part of your treatment program. Here are seven tools for managing traumatic stress so you can get your life back on track.

Understand that Recovery is a Process

Recovering from the stress of a trauma takes time. It is normal to experience stress reactions and to have an ongoing response to the trauma. Recovery happens little by little as you take steps for managing traumatic stress, which will probably include therapy or counseling as well as self-care for PTSD. There is no magic or quick cure.

When you are in the healing process, it doesn’t mean that you forget the traumatic event. You will undoubtedly still have pain or bad feelings when thinking about the incident. However, healing means that you will have fewer symptoms and they will bother you less as time goes on. You will develop confidence in your ability to cope with your memories and you will be better able to manage your feelings.

Seek Peer Support

Being able to share your experiences and feelings openly and honestly with others who truly understand what you are going through can be a very effective tool for managing traumatic stress. Peer support groups give you a platform for discussing your daily issues with other people who have also experienced trauma. Giving you a sense of connection to other people, a peer support is a positive addition to your PTSD treatment program.

Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

Another tool useful for self-care for PTSD is mindfulness. Simply put, mindfulness is the ability to be fully present, aware of where you are and what you are doing, and not overreacting or being overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. When you practice mindfulness, you do not think about regrets from the past or worries over the future.

Practicing mindfulness can help you with managing traumatic stress, as you gain insight and awareness by observing your own mind. It gives you the opportunity to suspend judgment and unleash your natural curiosity about the workings of your mind, approaching your experience with warmth and kindness, for yourself as well as for others.

Get Exercise

Getting outside, getting some fresh air, and engaging in healthy physical activity are positive ways of practicing self-care for PTSD. Exercising has been found to reduce stress levels, particularly in people with PTSD. Similar to the practice of mindfulness, exercise is simply more active and will also benefit you in terms of improved physical health. The art of tai chi has also been cited as a helpful way to manage the symptoms of traumatic stress.

Focus on the Five Senses

One effective self-care tool for PTSD involves an activity that makes you more aware of your five senses. You start with observing five different things that you see, hear, sense with your skin, taste, and smell. The next step is to notice four such things and then three and so on. Concentrate on the external factors and be as specific as you can. This technique enables you to essentially get out of your head and pay attention to things like shape, scent, texture, and color around you.

Think Positively, Briefly

In this technique, you are not being asked to look at the world through rose-colored glasses but only to bring something to mind that is positive and focus on that thing for 12 seconds. It might be a beautiful sunrise, a compliment from a friend, or the taste of fresh morning coffee. Focus on breathing and notice the impact of the positive thing on your body and emotions. Through these positive experiences, you can slowly replace your stress and fear-based thinking and move toward more effectively managing traumatic stress.

Sleep Under a Weighted Blanket

One of the more frustrating symptoms of PTSD is sleep disturbances. You may find that you just cannot get a restful night’s sleep because you have nightmares, flashbacks, or an overwhelming sense of anxiety. Sleep problems can lead to other symptoms, including irritability and relationship issues. Research shows that using a weighted blanket at night can actually simulate the feeling of being hugged safely and firmly, which has been shown to assist in reducing anxiety and insomnia.

Find Healing with Trauma-Informed Treatment

At Makana Path, we help you safely reprocess your trauma so you can regain control over your life. We offer a proven intensive healing approach that addresses the emotional, physical, and sexual trauma that can lead to addiction to drugs or alcohol. Healing is possible. It starts at Makana Path. To learn more about our Trauma Informed Treatment program, contact Makana Path today by calling 1-866-313-0978.

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