Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying or traumatic life event. PTSD can occur after you’ve witnessed or lived through an event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, military combat, or any other form of violence.
While it’s normal to have some level of distress after a traumatic experience, sometimes the symptoms can last long after the trauma and interfere with daily life. If you’re finding it hard to cope with the aftermath of a traumatic experience, here are some practical self-care tips that can help you manage PTSD symptoms:
Acknowledge your feelings
It’s okay to feel scared, angry, or helpless when dealing with trauma. But it’s only through acknowledging and expressing your emotions that you can begin to heal. Find healthy ways to release pent-up emotions, be it journaling or talking to a friend or loved one about your feelings and experiences.
Have a support system
Human beings are social beings, and we tend to thrive when we feel loved and supported. And in the case of PTSD, having a support system of close friends or family members you can lean on when you’re feeling overwhelmed can do wonders for your recovery.
Join a support group
There are numerous support groups available for people with PTSD. Joining one of these groups can help you feel less alone and give you an opportunity to share your experiences with other people who understand what you’re going through.
Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep can worsen the symptoms of PTSD and make it hard to cope with simple everyday stressors, so it’s important to ensure you’re getting enough rest on a daily basis. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine and aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. If possible, taking short naps during the day can also be helpful.
Stick to a healthy diet
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help improve your overall mood and energy levels, two areas that are negatively affected by PTSD. Make sure to include plenty of fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables in your diet, as well as whole grains and lean protein.
Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Exercising is also a proven antidote for stress and can help improve sleep and promote overall well-being. Try incorporating at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise into your daily routine.
Find a hobby
Doing something you enjoy can help significantly lift your mood and spirit when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Whether it’s painting, hiking, dancing, or playing an instrument, find an activity that brings you joy and stick with it.
Avoid numbing your feelings
It can be tempting to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to deal with the emotional turmoil of PTSD, but this will only make things worse in the long run. Not only does substance abuse compound the symptoms of PTSD, but it can also lead to addiction and other health problems.
Seek professional help
If PTSD symptoms interfere with your ability to lead a normal and productive life, it’s advisable to seek professional help as soon as possible. A mental health specialist who deals with trauma can provide you with the support and treatment you need to begin the process of healing.
If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, the above tips can help you manage your PTSD symptoms and improve your quality of life. However, if your symptoms are so severe to the point of interrupting your work or social life, it’s essential to seek professional help right away. With proper treatment and care, most people will live a symptom-free life.