Use These Techniques for Trauma Recovery and Flashbacks

From Robyn Brickel: “Flashback Halting Guide: !0 Tips to Halt Flashbacks for Yourself or a Loved One”:

1) Sip water. If intense thoughts and feelings from the past intrude and overwhelm your present awareness, these may be flashbacks. A tip to halt a flashback: Take a sip of water. This activates the pre-frontal cortex, which reconnects you with the present.

2) Use 5 senses. A trauma flashback can intrude when you least expect it. Try to activate each of the 5 senses. What do you see? What can you smell, touch, taste, and hear around you?

3) Find a favorite scent. Even if you were too young to remember a traumatic event, your body may still replay the experience, and flood your sense of the present. This is an implicit flashback. To restore your present awareness, use a scent you like – like hand lotion with an aroma. This helps you feel present in a safer place.

4) Feel the ground. If you feel flooded by a stress response that doesn’t fit the situation, you may be having a flashback. To help you feel safer in the present, feel your feet on the ground. Notice the sensations in the place where you are sitting or standing.

From Erin Faldo: “Strategies to Turn Trauma into Strength“:

3. SELF-COMPASSION

Shame, self-blame, and guilt are all too common in the aftermath of trauma. Practices of self-compassion and loving kindness under the gentle guidance of an experienced, trauma-informed instructor can allow survivors to reconnect with parts of themselves that have been wounded, at their own pace.

4. FINDING MEANING

“After trauma, it’s important to acknowledge mental suffering will happen,” Tedeschi instructs. “At a certain point, and in tandem with continuing distress, a crucial foundation of post-traumatic growth is making meaning out of and reflecting about one’s trauma.” As Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl realized, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

5. GRATITUDE

One of the single most effective practices for resilience is keeping a journal of gratitude. The army calls it “Hunt the Good Stuff,” but the exercise is the same: noticing three good things every day and reflecting on them. According to studies at the University of California, Davis, grateful people not only report that they are more satisfied, optimistic, and content with their lives, but they also have fewer medical symptoms, more energy, and even sleep better. In addition, cultivating gratitude improves our mood, and makes us more social and willing to help others.

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