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Handling PTSD Anxiety Effectively After Being Triggered

There are times with PTSD that I still get triggered and get stuck with this nervous energy, a miserable level of anxiety that I simply cannot shake. Now I’m not talking about some of the other anxieties that are out there – social anxiety, generalized anxiety. Those are beasts all unto their own.

I’m talking about PTSD anxiety. This is the kind of anxiety that you feel when your fight or flight response is triggered by some form of stimuli. Since there is no actual danger, you’re stuck with nothing to do with all this nervous energy. Years of living with this issue has led me into developing my own effective method for dealing with being triggered.

I do these activities with the understanding that I first need to deescalate the situation in my mind, so my body will stop responding, then gradually discard the excess energy from the initial response.

  1. Find privacy – first and foremost. I can’t seem to do this effectively unless I have privacy, so I usually head to a bathroom or somewhere private.
  2. Breathing exercises – I close my eyes and say the words to myself in my mind “I’m ok”. With my eyes still closed, I take a breath in through my nose, and out through my mouth, counting with each breath, up to ten. (In one, out one. In two, out two. In three, out three.) I do this as many times as it takes for my heart to return to normal or semi-normal, and the sweating to stop.
  3. Clean – if there’s trash, throw it away. Do the dishes. Get rid of clutter. {Some people prefer to exercise or take walks. Work extra hard at your job. Any of these will work. You are basically looking for a light physical activity to get rid of the energy built up in your system – it must go somewhere). Do this for as long as it feels is necessary.
  4. Meditate with breathing exercises – slow, deep breaths with a quick three to five-minute meditation. During your meditation, focus on your breathing. End by stretching your arms up over your head, making your spine as long as you can, then let go. Don’t skip this step, it really helps!

This is one activity during which I find being solitary is better for me – ordinarily I advise people to always reach out in any situation, but for me I find that I calm faster when I can deescalate alone or undisturbed. It could be different for you.

There were times when I first started in recovery that a minor trigger would leave me locked up with anxiety for days, with no end in sight. Some of these steps may seem unnecessary or even silly, however they have taken a process that would taken days and have reduced it to a couple of hours or less for me. It seems that taking the proper time and care of yourself as these situations arise is key – and mindfulness is what gets the job done.

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