If you’re experiencing flashbacks as part of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it can feel like you’re living through the traumatic event all over again. Flashbacks can be so vivid and intense that you may feel like you’re in danger.
There are things you can do to manage flashbacks and other symptoms of PTSD. Treatment can help you understand your triggers and develop healthy coping mechanisms. With time and healing, the frequency and intensity of flashbacks will likely lessen on their own.
Focus on your breathing. When you are frightened, you might stop breathing normally
Most people breathe instinctively and do not think about it. However, when you are frightened, your breathing may become shallower and more rapid, which can make you feel even more panicked. Learning to control your breathing can help you to feel calmer and more in control during a flashback.
When you start to feel anxious or panicky, stop and focus on your breath. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe in for a count of four, then breathe out for a count of four. Repeat this until you start to feel your anxiety lessen.
If you find it difficult to focus on your breath during a flashback, try counting backwards from 100 or focusing on an object in the room that is not moving. Grounding yourself in this way can help to bring you back to the present moment and lessen the intensity of the flashbacks.
Carry an object that reminds you of the present
It can be difficult to shake off the memories of a traumatic event. You may find yourself reliving the experience through flashbacks and intrusive thoughts. But there are things you can do to regain a sense of control.
One helpful strategy is to carry an object that reminds you of the present. This could be a photo of your loved ones, a favorite book, or anything else that brings you comfort. When you start to feel overwhelmed by memories, take out your reminder and focus on it until the feeling passes.
It may also help to keep a journal where you can write down your thoughts and feelings. This can give you a outlet for processing what happened and help you make sense of your experiences. Talking to a therapist or counselor can also be beneficial in managing PTSD symptoms.
Tell yourself that you are safe
It is important to remind yourself that you are safe when you are experiencing a PTSD flashback. This can be difficult to do in the moment, but it is important to try. Focus on your breathing and tell yourself that you are in the present moment. Try to ground yourself by focusing on your surroundings. If possible, remove yourself from the trigger situation. If you can not remove yourself, focus on something in the room that is comforting or familiar.
Comfort yourself when you’re feeling down. Pick yourself up and dust yourself off. You’re worth it, and you’re not alone. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But sometimes even the toughest need a little help and encouragement. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are some things to remind yourself that might help make things feel better.
You are strong. You have been through a lot in your life and you have come out the other side stronger for it. Remember that when you feel like you can’t go on any more – you are stronger than you think.
You are capable. You can do anything that you set your mind to – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When someone tells you that you can’t do something, just smile and say “watch me”. Prove them wrong by doing what they said you couldn’t do!
You are loved. There are people in this world who love and care about you very much – even if it doesn’t always feel like it. They may not always be there for you physically, but they are there for you in spirit. And that is worth more than anything.
Keep a diary
When you are experiencing flashbacks, it can be helpful to keep a diary. This can help you to track your symptoms and triggers, as well as any progress you may be making in managing your condition. The act of writing down your experiences can also be therapeutic in itself, providing a outlet for the emotions you are feeling. If you find that your flashbacks are particularly distressing, you may want to consider seeking professional help. There are treatments available that can help you to manage your symptoms and live a more normal life.
Try grounding techniques
grounding techniques are a great way to get rid of flashbacks associated with PTSD. These techniques can help you to stay present in the here and now, and can be used to counter intrusive memories or flashbacks that may occur.
There are a number of different grounding techniques that you can try, and it may be helpful to experiment with different ones to find what works best for you. Some common grounding techniques include:
• Focusing on your breath: Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Count each breath if it helps you to focus. • Focusing on your senses: What do you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel in the present moment? Pick one sense at a time and really focus on what you are experiencing through that sense. • Focusing on a physical sensation: Try squeezing your hand into a fist or pressing your feet into the ground. Alternatively, try holding something cold or warm (like a cup of tea). • Repeating positive affirmations: Say something positive out loud to yourself such as “I am safe” or “I am strong”.