nAre you struggling from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and don’t know what to do? Have you been feeling anxious, on-guard, and stressed out? Then consider using mindfulness to find balance, manage anxiety, and to remain calm.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, quite simply, means to have an increased awareness of the present moment. This can involve:
- Your physical body, including tension, body position, and especially your breathing.
- Your surroundings as perceived by your senses.
- Emotions and feelings.
When practising mindfulness, you don’t shy away or hide from a troublesome situation. Instead, you acknowledge the emotions, sensations, or surroundings and work to accept them.
Using breathing to help with PTSD
Perhaps the most basic mindfulness tool is focused breathing. We all need to breathe, of course, but how often do we really pay attention to our breath? Probably only when we are out of it! After a run or other strenuous physical exercise, we can have laboured breathing, and that’s the only time we really notice it. With mindfulness you:
- Slow down by drawing your attention away from distractions (TV, cell phones, etc.).
- Pay attention to each breath as you inhale and exhale.
- If you feel your mind drift, you return to the breath.
- You can feel calmer and more in control.
- Physically, your body is inhaling more oxygen at a steady rate.
For those who experience sudden bouts of anxiety, mindful breathing can be a helpful tool. Instead of focusing on what is causing your stress and anxiety, you shift your attention to breathing. Additionally, the steady rate and increased oxygen physically help you stay calm too.
Becoming more aware
Awareness is an enormous part of mindfulness, but often we are passing through life unaware. Often, we are caught up in the thought patterns running through our brains, or our eyes are glued to the screens of our smartphones. As a result, we are often unaware of what’s happening around us. You can improve your awareness and be more present by:
- Focusing on one task at a time, even if it’s something mundane like making the bed.
- Taking moments throughout the day to pause. Don’t look at your phone. Bring your head up, observe and study your surroundings.
- Taking part in activities that require you to be present, such as playing an instrument or cooking.
- Spending time with family and friends, talking and enjoying each other’s company.
Why is this important for those with PTSD? Because those who have this condition are often mentally trapped in the time surrounding their trauma. They relive it over and over. However, developing awareness can help them get out of that mindset.
Journaling and PTSD
Another part of mindfulness is acknowledgement, but that’s hard to do when you have painful memories that bring up hard emotions. However, allowing those thoughts and feelings to stay trapped inside you isn’t healthy either, especially when you don’t know how to get them out of your head. Why not try journaling? You may not always have someone available to talk to, but you can always have a small journal with you, ready to jot down those thoughts. What’s the benefit? Instead of letting those emotions and feelings build-up, you have a place to store them instead of your mind.
Appreciation and PTSD
PTSD keeps you trapped in this negative headspace, but showing and feeling appreciation allows you to get out of that mindset. For example:
- Have appreciation reminders posted around your home.
- Make a goal to show appreciation to someone daily.
- Appreciate the sunrise.
- Make a list of experiences you enjoyed throughout the day.
Living with PTSD is often a daily battle, especially when there is turmoil inside your mind and body. By using mindfulness, though, you can break free of that headspace and take back some of your control. Over time, you’ll find it easier to cope with life and not let PTSD dominate it.
Our resources page gives details of some apps and other resources which might help you develop a mindfulness practice, and we run occasional mindfulness workshops, too. Please subscribe to our mailing list if you would like is to let you know when the next event is going to be.
If you would prefer more immediate help developing your mindfulness practice or in coping with PTSD (or any other mental health issue), please reach out to us. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0151 329 3637. Alternatively, you can fill out our online referral form, and we will get in touch with you. Whichever way you prefer to get in touch, we look forward to hearing from you.