Living with PTSD can feel overwhelming, and flashbacks can be very distressing, but there are things you can do that may help. Here are a few hints and tips:

  • Remember to breath: when you are frightened or suffering from a flashback, you can temporarily stop breathing as you normally would, and this increases feelings of fear and panic. It can help a lot to concentrate on your breathing. Breath slowly in and out while counting to five or ten.
  • Carry something on your person that reminds you of ‘now’. Some people find it helpful to touch or look at a personal object during a flashback. It could be something that’s carried in your pocket or bag, or something that you have with you most of the time, such as a piece of jewellery.
  • Tell yourself that you are safe. It can help to repeat to yourself that the past trauma is over, and that you are now safe. This can be difficult during a flashback; maybe record it somehow, or have some useful phrases noted at a time when you’re feeling better.
  • Comfort yourself. Curl up in a blanket, stroke a pet, listen to some music, or watch a movie or TV show.
  • Keep a diary. Making a note of what happens when you have a flashback can help you spot patterns in what triggers those experiences. Learn to notice early signs that a flashback is beginning to happen.
  • Grounding yourself. Grounding techniques can keep you connected to the present and help you cope with flashbacks and distressing thoughts. You could describe your surroundings out loud or count objects of a particular type or colour.

Contact Rosalien Stagg at Journey Into Wellness for more information on managing PTSD.

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