There were times with PTSD that I would get triggered and get stuck with this nervous energy, a miserable level of anxious energy that I simply could not shake.
PTSD anxiety. The form 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 are then stuck with nothing to do with all of this nervous energy. Years of living with this issue led me into developing my own very safe and effective routine for dealing with being triggered.
What you first need to do is deescalate the situation in your mind, so your body will stop responding, then you will work on gradually discarding the excess energy from the initial response.
Deescalate and discard: safe, effective, non-destructive.
- Deescalate: find privacy – first and foremost. I would do this process most effectively when I could focus, so I would usually head to a bathroom or somewhere else quiet.
- Breathing exercises
Continue with deescalation: Close your eyes and say the words to yourself in your mind: “I’m ok.” With your eyes still closed, take a breath in through your nose, and out through your mouth, counting with each breath, up to ten. (In one, out one. In two, out two. In three, out three.)
Do this as many times as it takes for your heart to return to normal or semi-normal. Don’t stop until you can at least focus long enough to make it all the way to “in ten, out ten.”
- Discard: begin shedding excess, nervous energy.
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.
- Guided Meditation with breathing exercises
Once you feel like you’ve discarded most of that nervous energy, further your body’s healing by closing with slow, deep breaths along with a quick three to five-minute meditation.
These are available on YouTube; it’s advisable to have a favorite at the ready for when you need it. During your meditation, focus on your breathing. End by stretching your arms up over your head, stretching your spine out nice and long, hold it, then let go. Don’t skip this step, it really helps!
Again, this is one activity during which I found being solitary, at least for focused breathing and meditation, was better for me – ordinarily I advise people to always reach out in any situation, but for me I found that I calmed faster when I could 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 took a process that would taken days and have reduced it to a couple of hours or less for me.
Taking the proper time and care of yourself as these situations arise is key – and mindfulness is what gets the job done.