June 27 marks Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day.
PTSD is a mental illness commonly caused by exposure to trauma involving serious injury, sexual violence, death or the threat of death. PTSD can make you feel very nervous, ‘on edge’ or irritable, and many individuals say they experience vivid nightmares, flashbacks, or thoughts of the traumatic event/situation that seem to come from nowhere.
For many, living with PTSD can cause a change in thoughts or mood, and for some alcohol and substance use can feel like the only way to cope. If you are living with PTSD and are struggling with your symptoms, please reach out for support. We are here to help. Call 1-866-345-0183.
If you are living with PTSD and are looking for ways to cope with your symptoms, here are three tips from a knowledgeable Case Manager and Registered Psychotherapist from our Case Management program.
1. Recognize and manage triggers
One way to cope with your PTSD symptoms is to recognize your triggers. By identifying what specific types of thoughts, feelings and situations trigger you, you can prevent or lessen the impact of certain symptoms and take steps towards limiting the occurrence or impact of those triggers.
Triggers can fall into two categories: Internal and External.
To help you better understand your internal and external triggers, using a notebook or pad of paper, write down as many Internal Triggers and External Triggers as you can think of. For each, keep track of your experience and what was happening before you began to experience the symptoms.
Often, triggers can’t be avoided, so it is important to learn way to cope with them. Self-care and relaxation techniques are common effective, healthy coping strategies you can use to lessen your triggers and stress. Relaxation techniques may include:
- Deep breathing
- Expressive writing
- Grounding techniques
- Reaching out to support system (case worker, friend, family, etc.)
2. Practice self-compassion
If you are living with PTSD, it is common to feel like you don’t have control over your emotions or thoughts. When you don’t feel in control and are unable to manage the strong emotions you are feeling, it is easy to blame yourself and/or be unkind to yourself.
When things start to feel out of control for you, it is important to be kind to yourself. Difficult emotions can have less of an effect on your overall emotional well-being when you are more forgiving and kinder to yourself.
Next time you are overwhelmed by a strong emotion, try the following instead of self-blaming:
- Care for yourself as you would treat others.
- Giving yourself permission to be human, accept your flaws, and remind yourself that you are not alone in being imperfect.
- Practicing some self-compassion affirmations:
- “It is okay to make mistakes and forgive myself. My mistakes just show that I am growing and learning.”
- “Every day is a new opportunity. I will not let self-doubt or judgment hold me back from the future.”
3. Prioritize your self-care
Self-care plays a vital role in maintaining good mental health and positive steps towards recovery. Self-care means taking time out of your day to do things that help you live well and improve your physical and mental health.
Taking care of yourself can help you manage stress and cope with symptoms. Here are examples of self-care activities you can integrate into your routine:
- Exercise regularly
- Make healthy eating decisions
- Drink lots of water
- Prioritize your sleep
- Set goals for yourself
- Stay connected with friends and family
It’s important to remember that self-care can look different for everyone. Focus on what you enjoy and what works best for you.
If you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD, we are here to help. Please reach out for support by visiting cmha-yr.on.ca/case-management-16 or calling 1-866-345-0183.
CMHA York Region South Simcoe is proud to be a safe space for all youth, adults and family caregivers across York Region and South Simcoe to receive free mental health and addiction support.