The Flight or Fight response is your bodies own protective mechanism which is made to protect you during adverse situations. When this flight or fight response engages your chemistry is engaged and a plethora of hormones are released to help you in a life threatening situation. Over time when this response is engaged repeatedly your body becomes confused and you don't know what is a real threat or a perceived threat.
The flight or fight response doesn't understand time so your body might also be confused that the event is actually happening right now even though you're resting in bed and there is no danger. It is such a strong response that an event that happens in 1985 could trick your body into feeling it's happening right now even though it's 30 years later.
PTSD can be very debilitating but it doesn't have to be. Here are five great ways to help when you are in the midst of a PTSD attack.
1. Your body does not know time. Only space. During a PTSD attack look around the room and acclimate your body to the real time and the space that you are in. Your body is confused and thinks the event is happening in that moment. It sounds crazy but speak out loud when doing this technique. Your thoughts are not convincing, but your words will be. State the time, the date, where you are at and that you are safe in your environment. State out loud the color of the walls, the color of the drapes and everything you see. This will acclimate your body into the current time and space. Again keep repeating the date, time, where you are at and that you are safe in your environment. Also state this event happened however many years ago and that your body is not in danger. This technique is very important. If you do this again and again, it will calm your body as well as acclimate your flight or fight response to where it actually is in linear time.
2. If you are not allergic to smells use lavender on your pillow case each night before going to bed. Lavender has a calming affect and helps to release DHEA which is the relaxant hormone that helps calm a PTSD attack down when it is unleashed.
3. Exercise, exercise, exercise. This is the number one way to help with PTSD. When you exercise you release many chemicals that naturally help you reset your body to a normal functioning level.
4. Diaphragmatic Breathing: See my earlier blog post to learn how to do this technique properly.
5. Cry! Have you ever noticed that you are exhausted and tired after you cry? That's because you elicit chemical responses during the crying process. Crying elicits the relaxation response and helps reset body chemistry. There are actually toxins in a particular type of tears that will help your chemistry as well. Release your tears and it will make you feel so much better. If you're used to stuffing down those emotions and just getting through the attack by not crying this will actually prolong PTSD.
6. Laughing! Laughing also helps promote the DHEA relaxation response that helps reset imbalanced adrenal chemistry. Find those moments in your day where you authentically laugh and keep those belly laughs coming. Long silly, zany, belly laughing bouts are not only fun but they will help you reset your chemistry more quickly.
There are many forms of bodywork that can also help with PTSD. Acupressure, Integrative Meridian Therapy, Somatic Trauma Release, Acupuncture, Meditation, Foot Reflexology designed for PTSD, Yoga and many forms of alternative therapies can help you regain your life and your sense of well being.
So next time you need a little help try one of the above or reach out to a practitioner in your community and allow them to assist you.
Until next time...