PTSD: ACTIVE STEPS TO REDUCE YOUR STRESS
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect anyone who has been through or witnessed a traumatic event, or experienced ongoing trauma, which may have threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them.
PTSD can present in various ways but often includes strong reactions such as fear, sadness or anger. For some people it can take years to develop and may also present in the form of intrusive memories or nightmares, flashbacks to the event, physical symptoms like panic attacks, and avoidance of reminders of the event or situation.
While it can be distressing, the good news is that PTSD is very treatable with the support of a trained psychologist. There are several evidence-based therapies used to help those impacted make a full recovery, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).
In addition to seeking professional help, people with PTSD can take steps to help regulate their emotions from day-to-day.
Get to know your triggers is important. Certain situations or people might cause flashbacks or other symptoms. Reminders associated with a trauma, such as smells, sounds or places can be distressing. By knowing what your triggers are you can take active steps to reduce your distress such as:
- Focussing on your breathing.
- Carrying an object that reminds you of the present.
- Developing coping statements to help you feel safe.
- Comforting and being kind to yourself. For example, snuggle up on the lounge with a blanket, cuddle a pet or listen to soothing music.
- Keeping a diary to spot patterns and themes that are associated with your distress. This can help you be proactive by recognising your early warning signs.
- Putting a routine in place to help with stress management. Include regular exercise and a healthy diet, regulate alcohol intake, have a set bedtime each day and schedule in relaxation activities like mindfulness.
- Using apps regularly: good ones to refer to are the ‘PTSD Coach’ app and ‘Mindfulness Coach’ app; they both offer tips on how to manage symptoms and track your progress over time.
- Speaking to someone you trust, like a friend or family member, about how you’re coping.
If you’re feeling distressed, speak with your GP, or for crisis support call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members with service-related injuries, and their families can also reach out to Mates4Mates for support on 1300 4 MATES.
Mates4Mates provides support and rehabilitation services for those who have been injured physically, or are experiencing mental health issues, as a result of their Defence service.
Services include psychology appointments, physical rehabilitation and wellbeing support, social connection activities, and the opportunity to take part in multi-day rehabilitation adventure challenges. For more information visit www.mates4mates.org.
Clinical Psychologist, Mates4Mates