10 ways to relax when you have PTSD
So often, I see some great articles on how to reduce stress, or tips for anxiety sufferers, but more often than not, these don’t relate to people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s all well and good suggesting ‘go for a walk in the fresh air’, but when I had PTSD, I found it really difficult to go out on my own – sometimes they suggest listen to your favourite piece of music really loud, but as a PTSD sufferer, my hypervigilance was so out of control I couldn’t listen to music at all as it blocked my ability to be 100% aware of my surroundings.
As such, we’ve written the tips below specifically to help people with PTSD to relax – something which may be a bit or a paradox, as at times it can feel impossible to ‘chill out’ with PTSD, but it may be worthwhile to try them if you can.
Have a cup of Green Tea
Green tea is a great source of L-Theanine, a chemical which has been shown to relieve anger and stress by inducing a relaxing effect without drowsiness.
This isn’t designed to confuse or test you, but if you’re busy trying to remember what number comes before eight,you mind is likely to be a little distracted from your PTSD. Try slowly counting to 10 and then backwards again to calm down.
Drip Cold Water On Your Wrists
As there are major arteries right underneath the skin on your wrists and earlobes, dropping cold water on these areas can cool and calm your whole body.
No need to go on a retreat to the mountains – try to find a comfortable spot in a quiet place, concentrate on your breath, and feel those anxieties start to disappear. I found it useful for my husband to be in the next room while I did this so he could ‘keep guard’ so my hypervigilance could get a break too.
Eat some Chocolate
Dark chocolate can regulate levels of cortisol (which is usually in abundance in those with PTSD). Just one square can make a difference to your mood.
The soothing scents of lavender and tea tree can stimulate the smell receptors in the nose that connect to the part of the brain that regulates emotions causing relaxation.
Progressive relaxation involves tensing your muscles one body part at a time to achieve a state of calm. PTSD sufferers tend to have very tense muscles, so think also serves as a reminder to those muscles what the difference between ‘tense’ and ‘relaxed’ means. Just squeeze, release, and repeat.
Write It Down
Sometimes, putting our emotions on paper can make them seem less intimidating- you can find out more in our blog post here.
Give Yourself a Hand Massage
Your hands tend to can carry a lot of tension, it’s just the nature of modern humans using smartphones and keyboards more. To get an instant feeling of relaxation, use some great smelling lotion and start by kneading the base of the muscle under the thumb to relieve stress in the shoulders, neck, and scalp.
Run on the spot
Running on the spot can be a great way to get your endorphins flowing – quite often with PTSD going out for a run alone is out of the question, so running indoors even for 30 seconds can give you an instant boost.
If you have any more great tips for how to relax when you have PTSD, please comment below.
IMAGE: Daintree Estates Dark Chocolate Appearance by Lee McCoy
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