Self-care. Recovering from PTSD is an ongoing process that takes time. You will usually need the help of others to get through it. But there are healthy steps you can take by yourself to help you recover and stay well. Discover which ones help you feel better and add them to your life.
- Connect with friends and family. It’s easy to feel alone when you’ve been through a trauma and are not feeling well. And it can be especially tough if your friends and family experienced the same trauma and you feel like you don’t want to add to their burden. But isolation can make you feel worse. Talking to your friends and family can help you get the support you need. Studies show that having meaningful social and family connections in your life can have a positive impact on your health and healing.
- Relax. Each person has his or her own ways to relax. They may include listening to soothing music, reading a book or taking a walk. You can also relax by deep breathing, yoga, meditation or massage therapy. Avoid using drugs, alcohol or smoking to relax.
- Exercise. The basic rule of exercise is that any amount or type of exercise – so long as you don’t overdo it – is good exercise. Exercise relieves your tense muscles, improves your mood and sleep, and boosts your energy and strength. In fact, research shows that exercise can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Try to do a physical activity three to five days a week for 30 minutes each day. If this is too long for you, try to exercise for 10 to 15 minutes to get started. If you don’t have any time to exercise on weekdays, try to treat yourself to an hour or two of exercise on the weekend. That can still make a difference.
- Get enough rest. Getting enough sleep helps you cope with your problems better, lowers your risk for illness and helps you recover from the stresses of the day. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Visit the Sleep Foundation at www.sleepfoundation.org for tips on getting a better night’s sleep.
- Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts can be a great way to work through issues. Researchers have found that writing about painful events can reduce stress and improve health.
- Refrain from using alcohol and drugs that aren’t prescribed for you. Although drugs and alcohol may seem to help you cope, they can make your symptoms worse, delay your treatment and recovery, and can cause abuse or addiction problems. If you take prescription drugs, take them only as they are prescribed and in the right doses, and let your doctor or pharmacist know if they don’t seem to be helping you.
- Limit caffeine. In some people, caffeine can trigger anxiety. Caffeine may also disturb your sleep.
- Help others. Reconnect to your community by volunteering. Research shows that volunteering builds social networks, improves self-esteem and can provide a sense of purpose and achievement.
- Limit TV watching. If watching the news or other programs bothers you, limit the amount of time you watch. Try not to listen to disturbing news before going to sleep. It might keep you from falling asleep right away.