Self-Care for PTSD: How You Can Help Yourself
Anyone suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder knows how debilitating and uncomfortable it can be. While many people with PTSD require professional treatment, there is still a lot you can do on your own to mitigate your symptoms and move toward good mental health. It can’t hurt to give a few strategies a try.
These strategies can help you heal your PTSD:
1. Engage your creative mind. Studies have shown that engaging in creative activities can help with PTSD. Using your brain to create something new is a powerful process that requires using your brain in unusual ways. This seems to be soothing to those with PTSD. Consider these ideas:
● Composing music
● Creative writing
● These are just a few examples.
2. Communicate your needs with your social circle. If you don’t like to be touched, let people know. That’s better than sitting home alone to ensure that no one touches you. If you want to avoid certain topics, let everyone around you know that
● Letting others know your limits will reduce your anxiety as well as that of everyone else in your social circle.
3. Relax your body regularly. A relaxed body will help your mind to relax, too. There are many ways to do this, such as self-hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation, sauna, hot tub, and guided meditation. Experiment and find the most effective and convenient way to relax your body each day.
4. Consider acquiring a service animal. For some people, there’s nothing more relaxing than a dog or other type of animal. They don’t pity you, ask annoying questions, or judge you in any way. They just love you. Anyone, whether they have PTSD or not, could benefit from the right pet.
5. Meditate. Meditation is a powerful treatment for PTSD for several reasons: It teaches you how to focus, how your mind works, and allows you to explore thoughts and ideas in a controlled and distraction-free environment.
● Meditation requires practice, but it’s a very simple process. Like having a service animal, everyone benefits from meditation.
6. Be present. When dealing with a flashback or highly disturbing thoughts, stay present with your environment. Focus on where you are. What can you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Keep your mind in the present moment.
● This is also a useful tool for staying focused. When your attention wanders, bring it back to your environment.
7. Avoid ruminating. Rumination is just a bad habit in general. Instead of sitting around thinking about the past, future, or other made up scenarios, get busy and do something instead.
● Get out of the house. Mop the kitchen. Mow the grass. Watch a movie. The activity doesn’t matter, as long as you keep your mind active and avoid thinking excessively.
8. Find the right therapist. Find a therapist that has a lot of experience in dealing with PTSD. It’s also important to find a therapist that you feel comfortable with. Some therapists might have the right skills and experience but be a poor fit.
● It might require interviewing a few therapists to find the right one for you. Many mental health professionals provide free consultations. Take advantage of them.
Posttraumatic stress disorder is a serious matter, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take outside of a clinical setting to speed your healing. Meditation, taking part in creative activities, staying busy, and setting limits are just a few of the ways you can make life easier for yourself.
Get professional help, if necessary, but take responsibility to do what you can to help yourself.
SAMHSA 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration