Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) first came into public consciousness as an affliction that soldiers suffered after the trauma of battle. But soldiers aren’t the only ones to be affected by a traumatic event or develop PTSD. You can feel the lasting effects of all kinds of trauma, including:
- War or battle
- Terrorist attacks
- Sexual abuse
- Physical or emotional abuse
- An accident
- Witnessing violence
- Receiving shocking news
- Thinking that you’re about to die
- Complicated childbirth
- Natural disasters
- Being diagnosed with life-threatening illness
- Being in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
When you have PTSD, you may feel that you can’t move past the event that caused it. Nightmares, fear of loud noises, or avoiding places that remind you of the trauma may keep you locked in the past, afraid to move toward the future.
Even if you didn’t experience the event directly, it can still affect you. Social workers and medical workers often suffer PTSD by dealing with the aftermath of other people’s traumas.
At The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, our experienced counselors have expertise in therapies for PTSD that help you leave the past behind. We offer in-office as well as teletherapy sessions.
If you’re locked in the nightmare of PTSD, you may not see a way out. Following are a few of the steps that lead toward forging a new path forward for yourself.
Give yourself time
Just as physical wounds take time to heal, so do psychic and emotional wounds. Don’t berate yourself if you’re still feeling upset or anxious about the trauma you experienced or witnessed. Full recovery can take days or even months.
Of course, if you’re in a profession that constantly exposes you to trauma, such as being a social worker, hospital worker, or soldier, you may be retraumatized on a daily basis. You may need extra support just to get through your days. Don’t be afraid to reach out to colleagues, friends, and professionals to get the help you need.
Maintain your normal routine
When you’re in the throes of grief or fear, you may need to take a few days away from your normal routine. However, try to get back into the habit of doing the things that are a part of your structured days.
Even if you aren’t in the mood, simply keeping yourself occupied by daily tasks can help relax your brain and your nervous system. It also helps keep it focused away from the trauma.
One of the most important aspects of self-care after trauma is sticking to a regular sleeping schedule. Unfortunately, PTSD can cause insomnia and, often, nightmares. However, try to go to bed and rise at the same time every day. If you need help with sleeping issues, you can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI).
Don’t isolate yourself
Even though you may feel alone in your trauma or grief, other people can provide distraction and support. Talk to your friends and family about the way that you feel. Reach out to clergy, if that’s important to you.
If possible, ask someone, like a friend or a relative, to stay with you. If that isn’t possible, ask people to look in on you. As much as possible, try to maintain your social schedule. Any kind of socialization has been shown to improve mental health and mood.
Take care of yourself
When you’ve gone through, witnessed, or been shocked by a traumatic experience, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. Be sure you eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, and stay hydrated. Also take time to calm your nervous system and support your body with:
- Fun exercise
- Time outdoors
- Quiet time
- Hot baths
- Favorite books
- Watching comedies
- Seeing friends
Also pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you’re slowly starting to feel better every day, you’re probably on track for healing. If your despair, fear, or sadness persist, you might benefit from professional help.
Get the support you need
Sometimes, a good friend or family member is all you need to rebuild resilience after trauma. But it might not be enough.
Don’t feel like you have “soldier” through your feelings. Needing help doesn’t mean you’re weak. It’s a sign of strength to recognize and meet your needs.
If you aren’t sure how to pave your new road after the setback of a traumatizing event or events, contact our helpful team by phone or by using our online form for PTSD help today.