Whether it was a sexual assault, a mission from your last deployment or even your time in quarantine during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, trauma can send your life into a tailspin. You may feel like you’re reliving the trauma over and over again, unable to move past the experience. Every time you think you’re taking a step forward, the smallest of triggers sends you 10 steps back.
You can’t outrun or muscle your way out of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fortunately, there are healthy ways to manage your triggers rather than trying to avoid them or use substance abuse to cope.
What is a PTSD Trigger?
A PTSD trigger is any sight, sound, smell or thought that can set off your PTSD and bring back memories of your trauma. Symptoms of PTSD can come and go based on when your triggers occur. One moment you may be fine, then the next a car backfire or scene from a movie spikes your heart rate and causes a panic. In many cases, you may not even see the trigger coming.
That’s the tricky part about PTSD triggers – you don’t always know what will set off your PTSD. In order to manage them, you first need to identify what your triggers are.
5 Ways to Manage Your PTSD Triggers
The very best way to learn how to manage your PTSD is to seek treatment from a credible mental health treatment center like The Raleigh House. During your treatment search, there are healthy coping strategies you can start to practice:
1. Meditation. Meditation has shown efficacy in treating PTSD symptoms. Meditation practice can help you practice deep, consistent breathing, an effective approach to relaxing the body and mind. This breathing focuses your mind and prevents you from falling into a state of panic. During a meditation and mindfulness session, you’ll acknowledge your PTSD, then let go of your symptoms with each deep breath you take. If you’ve never meditated before, these apps can help you start.
2. Self-soothing. This strategy, also known as self-care, is focused on your five senses – taste, touch, smell, sight and sound. For instance, a warm bath engages your sense of touch to help your body relax. Drinking herbal tea can bring about a sense of calm through your taste buds, while breathing in an essential oil can slowly release any stress you’re feeling. Identify what activities, foods or objects can help you self-soothe the next time you start to stress or panic.
3. Animal therapy. Reports have shown that animal assisted therapy can dramatically improve PTSD symptoms. Interacting with animals like dogs, cats and even horses can release endorphins in the brain, returning you to a sense of calm after a PTSD trigger gets the best of you. This is why The Raleigh House offers equine therapy. Engagement with a horse can help you work through your emotions and calm your PTSD.
4. Expressive art therapy. Trauma isn’t always easy to talk about. When words fail, expressive art therapy can step in to help you process what you’ve been through. Drawing, painting, sculpting and even coloring can help you express your trauma and process thoughts and feelings you have. Working through your PTSD in this way can promote healing and help you feel grounded again for the first time since your trauma.
5. Journal writing. Just like art therapy, journaling is an activity that doesn’t require conversation to process your PTSD. Expressive writing offers many benefits in managing trauma, including working through feelings of anxiety, muscle relaxation and increased focus. Journaling gives you the opportunity to write about your experience as little or as much as you want, allowing you to find meaning in your experience.
Heal from Your PTSD at The Raleigh House
You don’t have to try to manage your PTSD triggers alone. At The Raleigh House, we offer an east to west approach that’s ideal for treating PTSD. We leverage evidence-based treatments like individual talk therapy to help you get to the bottom of your PTSD and identify triggers. We also use experiential activities like equine therapy and rock climbing to strengthen your mind and body. Our team strives to help you heal from your trauma and learn how to manage your triggers, so they no longer control your life.
Contact our admissions team today to find out more about our treatment approach for PTSD.