Genius tips from people who are going through it, too.
Posted on October 02, 2017, 17:06 GMT
We recently asked members of the
BuzzFeed Community living
with post-traumatic stress disorder to tell us how they take
care of themselves outside of professional treatment.
Here are their best tips for self-soothing, self-care, and
coping day-to-day with PTSD.
Remember: These aren’t meant to be medical recommendations, but
they’re tactics that have worked for others and might work for
you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best
methods for you.
2. Assemble a support team and prep them
on what’s helpful.
“I have a group of five people that I fall back on when I’m
having bad days or panic attacks. The group knows the full
story of what happened and have willingly volunteered to help
me out. It’s nice to know that even if person one and person
two are busy, I still have people three through five left to
help me out in tough situations.”
3. Or share with at least one person what
you’ve been through.
“I live with complex PTSD, meaning that there wasn’t one
traumatic event in my life or a stark ‘before’ and ‘after.’ I
was in therapy and on medication, and was really good at
self-soothing through my flashbacks. But I was also determined
to do it all by myself. It was only when I told my finally best
friend about some of the things in my childhood that still
affected me to this day, and about the fact that I deal with
C-PTSD, a weight was lifted off me.”
—Anonymous, via email
6. Take up journaling, and try writing in
different journals depending on what you need.
“I keep two journals. One is for letting out whatever is on my
mind, but the other is for positive thoughts only (quotes I
like, encouragement from friends, Bible verses since I’m
religious, etc.). The first one helps me process what I’ve been
through and the difficulties of living with my disorder, and
the second one gives me concrete reminders of my progress and
of the fact that I’m ultimately bigger than my disorder.”
9. Identify your triggers and speak up
“When I started dating again after my trauma, it was extremely
difficult for me to have even a simple date without something
triggering me. When I began communicating my triggers to my
boyfriend, it brought us closer together, built trust and
helped me process through them.”
11. Watch horror movies.
“I know it’s a bit unconventional, but horror movies have
helped my PTSD a lot, somehow. Not ones focused on gore and
awful human beings, but things like haunted houses and demons
and stuff. I can be scared in a controlled environment. I don’t
have to watch it if it’s too scary, and as soon as the movie is
done, I don’t have to deal with the consequences of it. They
also help me reconnect with my body, since I disassociate a
12. Maintain a balance between reaching
out to people when you’re triggered and knowing how to
“It’s great when people you trust are able to help calm you
down, but if they aren’t available or are dealing with their
own struggles their responses or lack thereof can make things
worse. So for me it’s important to try to reach out, but have a
backup plan of music or a calm activity to relax yourself when
you get triggered.”
14. In case you’re still grappling with
it, consider that admitting to yourself that you have PTSD
could be very freeing.
“One of the hardest things for me to do was to actually admit
and come to terms with having PTSD. Once I did, it was like a
load off and from there I was able to get the help I needed.”
17. Stick to a health routine, including
avoiding drinking or mind-altering substances.
“To cope with my PTSD, I have developed a pretty solid routine
that incorporates healthy eating and exercise. I avoid alcohol
and other mind- or mood-altering substances. I try to stay on a
regular sleep cycle.”
20. Always carry headphones with you so
you have a distraction available when you need it.
“There are some popular old songs that trigger me, and I never
know when they’re going to play when I’m out shopping or at a
restaurant. As soon as they start playing, I plug my headphones
into my phone and play music as loudly as I need to in order to
not be able to hear the triggering song. If someone is with me,
I ask them to tell me when the song ends. If not, I just listen
to one or two of my songs and then check if the triggering song
22. Look into a therapist who practices
eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), which
many PTSD-sufferers have found effective.
“It helped me to not feel like I’m reliving my traumas
everyday. My triggers were so bad that it would scare me to
walk past men on campus, but now I am able to lead a mostly
trigger-free life. It’s not a cure-all, I still have many
difficult side effects of PTSD, but the traumatic memories have
25. Share your story however you feel safe
so you can find other people who share your same
“Knowing, as horrible as it is, that I’m not alone in my
experiences really does help. After people have told me about
their experiences they’ve said that it felt so good to finally
let it out. That’s what I love. Being open and honest has
really helped me heal and spread awareness about not
victim-blaming and not judging people because you never know
what they’ve been though.”
27. Learn to deep breathe, both when
you’re calm and when you’re anxious.
“I practiced the deep breathing a lot when I was feeling calm
so it would be second nature when I had a panic attack. It’s so
helpful because I can’t always predict what will trigger my
panic attacks or anxiety, but I have this great technique to
calm me down regardless.”
28. Look into adult paint by number kits
or coloring books.
“Nothing has helped me calm down more than they do.”
30. Remember it’s okay not to be okay
“Love yourself through the process, even on the bad days.
Remember that anxiety from PTSD or complex PTSD is caused
because your brain wiring was literally changed. Be gentle with
yourself and practice lots of self-care.”
31. And finally, know that you are not
weak for seeking help.
“I thought I could fight through the symptoms — the fear, the
flashbacks, the crippling anxiety attacks — but they only grew
worse. There are psychologists who study for years, learning
how to best combat mental disorders. Find a highly recommended
psychologist and trust them. Be strong. Seek help.”
To learn more about PTSD,
check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental
And if you need to talk to someone immediately, you can reach
the National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and or the
Crisis Text Line by
texting HOME to 741741. Suicide helplines outside the US can be