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How to Cope With PTSD: Recovery Tecniques

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • updated: 5/15/2011

Coping with PTSD can be difficult, especially during the early stages. Whether you are suffering from PTSD yourself or helping a loved one recover from it, there are techniques that can make it easier.

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    Relaxation Techniques

    You can use relaxation techniques to help you cope with PTSD symptoms when they come. Learn which techniques help you relax the most. Don't avoid learning yoga poses or meditation just because it's "not you." Either of these techniques, as well as muscular relaxation, breathing exercises, swimming, prayer, and listening to calm music can help you to put your PTSD symptoms on the back burner and soothe yourself. Keep in mind, however, that people with PTSD may find that these relaxation tecniques seem to tense their bodies because their attention stays focused on physical sensations that can seem uncomfortable. If this happens to you, continue with these techniques, but intersperse them with other activities so that they remain tolerable. In the long run, they can help you to control your negative thoughts and reactions due to PTSD.

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    Support From Others

    You have probably heard how important it is for people with PTSD to find others who can support them in the recovery process. These may be "official support personel," such as social workers or psychologists, and it is often helpful to speak with these people about the traumatic experience itself. This does not mean, however, that these people should compose your entire support team. People who have undergone similar experiences, whether or not they have suffered from PTSD, can be helpful when you need advice or just the feeling of being understood. You can join a support group composed of these types of people in order to get this much-needed support.

    In addition, don't forget to turn to friends and family members, even if they may be unable to relate to what you have gone through. Building friendships and cementing your family relationships can help with feelings of isolation that you may have in the wake of PTSD. Never underestimate the healing power ofPTSD Support Groups.

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    Giving to Others

    Although it's important for you to look to others for support, you shouldn't be constantly taking from others. Instead, find productive ways that you can give back to friends, family, other PTSD sufferers, or the community at large. Although it may seem convenient to be "too tired" to babysit for a family member or to grill some chicken for dinner, push yourself to perform these productive chores in order to take advantage of everything you have to offer. At a support group, try to help others with the issues that they raise and feel proud in the fact that you have been able to give support to someone else.

    At the same time, look around at your community to find productive avenues where you can use your skills. If you're good with your hands, try teaching woodworking to a group of teens or helping to build a local playground. You can work together with other volunteers at a soup kitchen or other charitable location, chair a fundraiser for a local organization that you support, or organize groups of people to visit the homebound.

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    Positive Distractions

    Another mechanism for coping with PTSD is to distract themself from their negative thoughts through throwing themselves into a different activity. Physical activity, such as an exercise program (approved by your doctor), a swimming class, or even a jog around the block can help relieve physical tension and distract a person from painful memories. They can also raise a person's levels of self esteem and their feelings of control over themselves and their environments.

    Artistic endeavors can also serve as a distraction, as well as a way for people to express their feelings in a more positive way. This would include everything from painting and sculpting to writing and photography, all of which offer the opportunity for artistic expression.

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    References

    Family of a Vet. "Real-Life Coping Skills for PTSD." http://www.familyofavet.com/coping_with_PTSD.html

    PTSD Support. "Active Coping Skills for PTSD." http://www.ptsdsupport.net/ptsd_coping_skills.html

    Mayo Clinic. "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Coping and Support." http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/DS00246/DSECTION=coping-and-support