How to Overcome PTSD

PTSD is a serious mental health concern that significantly impairs your normal functioning.  It is not just the normal consequence of a traumatic event. If you experience a traumatic or highly distressing event, it is normal to initially feel disconnected, sad, frightened, or anxious. Typically, these feelings fade away with time.  However, if you experience PTSD, these symptoms tend to get worse with time.
People with PTSD often experience distressing memories of the event, nightmares related to the event, and intense physiological distress. And to avoid experiencing traumatic symptoms of the event all over again, they tend to avoid the situations that trigger them. This avoidance behavior, though carried out in defense, often adds fuel to the fire and makes the situation worse. Trauma can shatter you emotionally and induce feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to overcome the feelings associated with trauma and PTSD. 

Physiology of the Fight or Flight Syndrome:

When you face a stressful or dangerous situation, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol. The body also activates other physiological changes such as increased heart rate and blood flow, dilated pupils, etc. to trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response. This response is activated by your central nervous system when it interprets the situation as threatening. The Amygdala is also activated which results in you forming emotional memories of the threats that you experience. As a result of these physiological responses, your body becomes prepared to either fight the danger or flee to safety. Once the danger passes, your body begins to relax and returns to its normal state. However, when someone experiences PTSD, their body tends to remain in a constant sate of alert.  The fight or flight response becomes an almost constant experience. Over time, this begins to take an enormous physical and emotional toll.

Effective Ways to Overcome PTSD:

  1. Learn to Use Meditation:
Meditation is one of the effective and practical ways to enhance self-awareness and the functioning of your body. Effects of anxiety can be observed in your body, such as tensed muscles, tingling sensation/numbness, fatigue, etc. Meditation helps you to relax.

At the start, practice meditation for at least 5 minutes a day, then increase the duration with time.

For meditation, sit in a quiet and comfortable place. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. As you inhale or exhale, focus on your breath. Notice any thought that arises, then bring your attention back to the breath. This will calm your body and mind.

Mindfulness meditation helps you by keeping you in the present moment. One of the mindfulness practices is the body scan. This technique requires you to focus on each body part and notice the sensation within that body part.  As you breathe deeply, notice as the sensation comes and goes. This process will help you learn to be aware of your bodily sensations. Then, when you experience a fast heart rate, sweating, or the heart palpitations that come with anxiety you can be proactive in intervening. Instead of letting the anxiety build, you use your awareness of early body signals to calm your body through deep breathing.
  1. Shake It Off:
Have you ever seen your dog shaking its body after it is stressed? It is the dog’s way to relieve stress. Working out or doing practices like yoga can help you get your body’s energy unstuck.
Yoga can get your energy flowing and unblock the areas where your body is carrying the stress.  Similarly, exercise can be a great stress reliever and can help you release endorphins in the brain which will enhance your mood. Activities like swimming, jogging, dancing, or rock climbing can also help bring you back into the moment which is a great way of minimizing the worries and anxiety that come with PTSD.   
  1. Use Grounding:
People with PTSD may experience flashbacks which can lead them to feel completely disconnected from the world around them. Grounding can be a useful way of dealing with this feeling. In grounding, you redirect your attention to something around you using your senses. For example, say the alphabet backward out loud. Or name 3 things you can see, touch 3 things and describe them as well. Keep your eyes open when practicing grounding to stay connected to the present moment. It is also better to say out loud what you are seeing and doing. Try to practice this skill when you are calm so that you can practice it easily when you need it.
  1. Coping Through Art:
Art is a form of therapy that is effective in dealing with stress, PTSD, anxiety, and other issues. It develops self-awareness. Art also helps you process complex emotions and reduce the effect of negative thoughts by turning them into words. Moreover, it helps you find relief. You don’t have to be an artist to benefit from art. Do it anyway, start writing a journal, draw something, write a poem, etc. Do whatever excites you.
  1. Indulge in Self-care:
The very thing we all do while experiencing stress, anxiety, or even carrying out a busy schedule is that we stop taking care of ourselves. If you are experiencing any emotional or mental health issues including PTSD, start making yourself a priority. Do what you love. Start by doing one activity per day. It could be listening to music for 15 minutes, watching a movie, going out with friends, pampering yourself with a warm bath, etc. Do anything you liked before PTSD or try something new
  1. Connect Socially:
Social connection is very important for healing and moving on. PTSD, like other mental health concerns, can disconnect you from others. Reach out to your family or friends and spend time with them. Just having a warm conversation or joking around can help you feel lifted.

Social connections can also be made in the form of joining a PTSD support group. Such groups help you overcome self-defeating thoughts or feelings that you are alone. Members of support groups share their experiences and strategies they use to deal with the trauma. Support groups can help you learn new tools and can be an important step in your road to recovery.
  1. Create A Healthy Routine:
Healthy practices won’t help you much if you only do them once. You need to incorporate them into your daily life. Make a routine, a healthy schedule, and follow it. Make sure to get 7-9 hours of sleep. If you find difficulty falling asleep, try relaxation techniques such as sleeping meditation, or listen to calming music, etc. Take rest whenever you feel tired so that your body doesn’t get stressed.

Include healthy foods in your routine. A lack of nutrients can cause anxiety, depression, and other health concerns. Choose unprocessed whole foods with vegetables and fruits. Limit processed foods, carbonated drinks, refined starch, fried food, etc. Avoid alcohol and drugs since these substances can aggravate the symptoms of PTSD.
Make a to-do list each day and try to complete as many tasks as possible. This will give you a structure to follow through the day, keeping you away from playing painful scenarios in your mind. Creating a routine will also help you to be productive. It will enable you to carry on your daily activities.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you find that your symptoms of PTSD are not improving, seek professional help. The sooner you consult a qualified professional, the better. Because if left unchecked, symptoms of PTSD can get worse.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you are struggling with PTSD, New Dimensions can help.  Our Online Intensive Outpatient Programs are available to anyone who resides within the State of Texas, including Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Beaumont, Houston, Laredo, and Lubbock. We also have in-person Intensive Outpatient Programs for adults and adolescents in Katy, The Woodlands, and Houston, Texas.  To learn more about our programs visit our website at or call us at 1-800-685-9796.

06 April, 2021

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