PTSD flashbacks are life-disrupting psychological events that make it difficult to function normally in your daily life. Learning to avoid these upsetting events is the first thing that every person with PTSD wants to do. The following steps will help guide you on the way to recovering from your PTSD flashbacks.
- Resume Normal Life – After a traumatic experience, or the intense reliving of a traumatic experience, you should make the attempt to return to your normal life as soon as possible. If you persist in shutting yourself away from the world, you will not have a chance to inure yourself to the triggers found in everyday life that might otherwise become harmless and mundane once again.
- Learn Coping Behaviors – Coping behaviors are how you can enable yourself to encounter triggers in everyday life without re-traumatizing yourself. In order to build up an “immunity” to the triggers for your flashbacks, you will need to put some effort into finding and creating coping mechanisms that work for you. These may involve calming breathing routines, visualization exercises, or personal mantras that acknowledge your fear and remind you that you are safe and in the present.
- Talk to Other Survivors of Trauma – If you are someone with PTSD, you may feel that no-one understands what you have been through, or feel ashamed that your experiences have affected you to this degree. It may help to demonstrate to yourself that you are not alone by talking with other trauma survivors who are undergoing their own versions of what you are going through. Being able to speak frankly about your experiences to someone who truly understands can be a highly therapeutic experience and make you less anxious about the flashbacks themselves.
- Empower Yourself – Focusing on being the victim of your traumatic experience and the powerlessness that the experience and the flashbacks make you feel does nothing to strengthen you against them. Taking some action in response to your trauma, such as donating to/volunteering for a cause or writing about it in a journal, can help you to find closure and give your mind the sense that it is in control again.
- Consider How You’ve Changed – It’s easy to concentrate on the bad repercussions of trauma, but there can be good ones, too. Perhaps you have come out of the experience stronger as a person, or have discovered what really matters to you in life, or made you aware of social problems you never thought about before. How you look at a situation and how you behave when faced with it can make a big difference in how positive or negative its effects will be. In the case of PTSD, it will help you to stop focusing on your flashback anxiety and start appreciating your mind’s overall resilience and power, instead.
- Have Patience – Being patient when it comes to PTSD flashbacks can be a challenge. You just want them to finally go away for good. However, if you push yourself too hard, give yourself a hard time about your attacks, and don’t put enough effort into helping yourself, you will actually end up increasing the severity and frequency of the panic attacks rather than decreasing them.
PTSD flashbacks can’t be instantly “cured” in the blink of an eye. They require time and effort to overcome. However, as a survivor of trauma, you can take courage in knowing that you have the strength to survive most any psychological challenge that comes your way.