Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event can leave you feeling as if your life is spiralling out of control. Symptoms such as hopelessness, depression, isolation, fatigue, irritability, hypervigilance and insomnia may leave you feeling as though things will never be the same again. However, these are all normal reactions to an abnormal event and things can get better. I encourage you to attend to your symptoms as soon after the trauma as possible. Have compassion for yourself and allow your feelings to come and go. Try not to resist the feelings but rather let the waves of emotion roll through you and acknowledge that you are still ok once they’ve passed. This is a healthy part of your healing process. Also, know that you are not alone in your struggle. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 8% of all people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. It may not feel like it at the moment but you are resilient and you can get through this. The following seven tips are a healthy start to your road to recovery:
Studies have shown that exercise releases endorphins and, in turn, elevates your mood. Hit the gym, jog by the ocean, sign up for a yoga class, have a swim in the local pool, or simply go for a walk. No matter what your preference may be, try to get your body moving for at least 30 minutes each day.
EAT WELL AND GET PLENTY OF REST
Eat a balanced diet and get plenty of rest to help nourish and replenish your brain and body. If you are having trouble sleeping try to resist caffeine and alcohol. Trade coffee and caffeinated teas for herbal teas, listen to a calming audio book, and focus on relaxation and grounding techniques.
Although you may find yourself wanting to isolate from your friends and family, now is the time for connection. Find support from friends and family and minimize isolation. Connection helps you heal. Not to mention, laughter releases endorphins in your brain and can elevate your mood!
MAINTAIN A ROUTINE
Maintain a regular and positive routine. Take a bubble bath in the evening, read a good book, pursue a new hobby, or get out for a walk. Whatever it is that makes you feel good, make it part of your routine.
KEEP IT LIGHT
Minimize exposure to disturbing images or messages on the news or in books, TV programs, and movies.
Alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drug abuse are often used to numb symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Unfortunately, these only exacerbate the symptoms and may lead to the development of co-morbid, or co-occurring mental disorders. If you are struggling with substances you should let your doctor know so you can get the support you need.
SEEK HELP FROM A QUALIFIED THERAPIST
If your symptoms have prevented you from being able to go about your daily responsibilities and activities you may want to consider seeking the help of a qualified therapist. When treated thoroughly healing can lead not only to symptom reduction, but long-term transformation. It is extremely important to find a trauma therapist with whom you feel a sense of safety and comfort. You should be comfortable with the pace and work together towards your goals.
Wishing you a gentle journey,