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How to Cope with Traumatic Stress & PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other forms of traumatic stress can be challenging and unpredictable. It is normal to experience traumatic stress after an event that exposes you to a violent act, serious injury, sexual violation, or other shocking or triggering event. Traumatic stress can activate intrusive thoughts and flashbacks that appear without a moment’s notice. In many cases, trauma can affect a person’s ability to function in their daily life. Over time, symptoms of trauma can get better, but individuals with more intense symptoms may need professional help. The good news is that there are effective ways to cope with and treat the effects of severe stress.

Explore our suggestions for how to cope with traumatic stress and PTSD:

1. Lean on Your Loved Ones

After experiencing a traumatic event, it is important to identify friends or family members you can rely on for support. When you feel ready to talk about your trauma, you might tell them about your experience and your feelings. Ask your loved ones to help you with household tasks or other obligations to help relieve you of some of your daily stress so you can work on healing your deeper trauma.

2. Face Your Feelings

It is normal to avoid thinking about your traumatic experience, but too much avoidance can prolong your stress and healing. If you find yourself isolating from loved ones, not leaving your house, sleeping irregularly, or using substances to escape your feelings, consider adopting healthy habits to help you ease back into a normal routine. Face your feelings and seek support from your loved ones or a mental health provider as you work to get back to your daily life.

3. Practice Breath-work

A free practice you can do anywhere is breath-work. Being conscious of your breathing patterns as a coping mechanism for traumatic stress and PTSD can help you think clearly and return to the present moment. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold for two seconds, and exhale through your mouth or nose for six seconds. Repeat. This practice will activate the part of your nervous system which helps your body calm down.

4. Validate Your Experience

What you are going through is a normal response to abnormal experiences. Remind yourself that self-validation is an important part of your healing. While you may have traumatic stress and PTSD, you are not your trauma. What you have experienced is real and painful. Validate your experience and recognize that you are healing.

5. Prioritize Self-Care

Engage in healthy coping strategies that allow you to focus on self-care. Eat nutritious meals, exercise or participate in regular physical activity, and get a good night’s rest. You may enjoy doing art, playing or listening to music, meditating, relaxing with a good book, or spending time in nature.

“Talking about using creative techniques for healing, for me, painting with watercolor is a spiritual self-discovering journey which heals the invisible wounds and scars,” says Kim Le Nguyen, Clinician and Art Therapist at Diversus Health. “Through my education and career in mental health, art has been my space of safety, as well as transformation. I’ve always been fascinated with watercolor painting techniques, how simple it is and, yet a complex process that requires a lifetime of practice. In watercolor painting, there are no words, no verbal language to be deciphered; I am invited to experience and interpret with my own history. In surrendering to this process that requires absolute presence, I’m one with the colors, the smells, the sounds, the temperature, the pace, the emotions and the transcendence, then I paint. Clients are invited to join me on this journey of self-discovery, healing, and transformation in art therapy sessions.”

6. Be Patient

It is normal to have strong reactions to traumatic events. Be patient with yourself and others. Take life one day at a time during your recovery. With time, you may see your symptoms start to improve and you may feel like you are getting back to yourself.

7. Seek Help & Support

It can be beneficial to seek help and support, especially if your traumatic stress or PTSD is interfering with your relationships, work, or daily functioning. Mental health providers and professionals can help you find healthy ways to cope in the aftermath of a traumatic event. Reach out to us at Diversus Health to request an appointment to get started today.

*If you or a loved one is struggling with traumatic stress or PTSD, we are here to help. Contact us at Diversus Health to request an appointment. If you need to speak to someone immediately, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.

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