Self Help Tips

Post-Traumatic Stress Self-Help Tips

I am not a therapist or licensed professional, and the information below is not a treatment, merely information gathered from several online sources to provide some help. If you or someone you love is experiencing PTSD, talk with a school counselor, licensed therapist, or other professional to seek treatment and help.

PTSD Self-Help Tips:

  • Get moving- exercise helps your nervous system stop getting "stuck" and rendering you paralyzed during moments that cause fear, as well as giving you a way to engage with the world around you, which helps you stay in reality. Being in nature is also a great way to go because it gives you a sense of peace.
  • Regulate your nervous system- you can change your brain's response to stimuli through: breathing techniques, finding sensory inputs that take you to a calming place instead of back to a traumatic event (like a happy song or calming scent that reminds you of a good time), and reconnecting to uncomfortable emotions without becoming overwhelmed to take back control of your life.
  • Connect with others- contact with people you love that make you feel safe is the best way to soothe your nervous system after the flight-or-fight reflex has been triggered. This could be a friend, family member, or therapist. If it's difficult to speak up, try exercising first to clear your head, making different vocal tones by humming, and joining a PTSD support group so you know you aren't alone.
  • Make healthy lifestyle choices- relax to ease your body's response to tension and PTSD symptoms; avoid alcohol or drugs because they worsen the symptoms, interfere with treatment, and create problems in your life and relationships; eat a healthy diet; and get enough sleep to strengthen your mind and avoid anger, irritability, and moodiness.

Helping Someone Else:

  • Don't force them to talk about their trauma- this can make things even worse. Instead, offer support and acceptance and let them open up to you in their own time
  • Let them take the lead- let them tell you how you can best support them
  • Manage your stress- the healthier you are, the better you'll be able to help
  • Prepare for PTSD triggers- if you're aware of the triggers they have, you can prevent them from popping up or help calm them down when one does
  • Don't take their symptoms personally- if they seem distant or upset, it may have nothing to do with you
  • Educate yourself- the more you know about PTSD symptoms and treatment, the easier it'll be to understand and help the person you care about
  • Take care of yourself- if you ignore your own needs in order to help them, you'll burn yourself out and be unable to help yourself or them

Finding Help:

Finding a therapist or PTSD support group may sound scary- after all, nobody wants to recall past traumatic events. However, they can help you overcome triggers and reduce the hold the memories have on your life. Different types of treatment will allow you to straighten out distorted memories and irrational thoughts, relieve secondary symptoms of PTSD like anxiety or depression through medication, and correct some of the systems in your brain that have been altered by the trauma. (