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PTSD RECOVERY

Healing from any/all trauma takes TIME, but time alone will not make the wounds go away, but there are things you can do to help yourself.  Like life we each experience things differently and some approaches may/may not work for you.  I believe that the only real prison is one where there are no possibilities.  And I feel the only barrier to possibility is our imaginations, and our moxie to follow our gut instincts.  As with all things in life, moderation is always key, our lives are out of balance, the goal needs to stay focused on resuming an equilibrium.  These are in no particular order, however I subscribe to Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs and there are certain things that must be prioritized.  Like, sleeping, eating and maintaining a regular elimination process.  That's a nice way of saying that all your detox pathways need to be functioning daily.  

MEDITATION

Meditation or Mindful breathing is a quick way to calm yourself. Simply take long slow inhales, focusing your attention on each out breath.   Just as specific sights, noises, or smells can instantly transport you back to the traumatic event, so too can sensory input quickly calm you down. Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.  Essential Oils, Himalayan Salt lamps and music/chantting are examples of things that can be added to help you ground yourself in the meditative mood.   Many people have religious or spiritual ties that give them an avenue of meditation, if these work for you, USE them.  There are also numerous guided meditations available on YOUTUBE.  Find something that makes you relax, physically as well as emotionally and mentally.  I personally took a course in Transcendental Meditation years ago and I tend to use the same approach today.  What takes you to your HAPPY PLACE?

SLEEP

Sleep disturbances and PTSD: a perpetual circle? According to  Dr. S. Van Liempt;  a doctor at the  University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands,  It has been proven activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is involved in disturbed sleep in patients with PTSD.

Nightmares, Night terrors, frequent awakenings cause most people with PTSD to dread sleep.  Yet sleep is probably one of the biggest healers.  When sleep isn't possible physical rest is essential.  Good sleeping habits include, reducing EMF or Wifi stimulus for at least 60 mins before lights out.  I personally cannot sleep if it is too quiet and I use a sleepy time (familiar movies I know off by heart) movie and a sleep timer on my TV.  I try to stick with my circadian cycle and rest in the late morning around 11am, then I have a nap or lie down in the later afternoon.  I aim for a 10 PM bedtime but sometimes miss it.  I know when I sleep more and am kinder to myself with resting my body and mind, I am better able to deal with stressful situations and triggers.

PET THERAPY

 Pets: reduce stress, reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and promote exercise. Now to that list can be added: help PTSD patients to reduce their symptoms.  Unlike humans, animals are not at all prejudiced toward differences among people, most people with PTSD have feelings of being broken/incapable/disabled.   For the PTSD patient, pets are the ever-affectionate friend determined to give and receive comfort and attention. In the case of dogs and cats, they are the warm body that curls up beside you when life, or your past, threatens to overwhelm you.  There have been many studies to look at the benefits of animal interaction and stress reduction.  Dogs are the most common and can be the easiest to work with.  

NATURE

Research has shown that just spending time outdoors in green space can have significant benefits on your mental well-being. This can be as simple as spending some time gardening, or sitting in your local park, or spending quality time with a pet, or going for a walk in the countryside.  Ecotherapies such as Wilderness Therapy, Pet-Assisted Therapy, Equine-Assisted Therapy, Nature Awareness, Green Therapy, Horticultural Therapy and Walking Therapy, all take this concept much further by actively utilizing a connection with nature as part of the therapeutic process to enhance your psychological and spiritual health and well-being.  Grounding is a great example of how when we are connected to our environment, we can find greater inner strength.  Being connected to something bigger than ourselves provides us a base.  What could be more reliable then the feel of the earth under our feet.

CANNABIS

One pillar of PTSD is an endocannabinoid deficiency: the body stops producing enough endocannabinoids to fill receptor sites, and this is where the cannabinoids found in marijuana play a therapeutic role. By replenishing these missing endocannabinoids with those found in cannabis, researchers think marijuana pharmaceuticals might bring PTSD patients relief from their memories.

“Scientists have determined that normal CB-1 receptor signaling deactivates traumatic memories and endows it with the gift of forgetting,” Lee said, “But skewed CB-1 signaling, due to endocannabinoid deficits (low serum levels of anandamide), results in impaired fear extinction, aversive memory consolidation, and chronic anxiety, the hallmarks of PTSD.”  

From a recent article, "Canada’s largest retail pharmacy chain, Shopper’s Drug Mart, applied for a production license with the goal of dispensing medical marijuana"   

For more information on cannabis click here

Reframing involves seeing things from a different perspective, in another light, from an alternative point of view. Effectively, REFRAMING is saying 'Let's look at it another way.' Challenge the beliefs or other aspects of the frame. Stand in another frame and describe what you see. Change attributes of the frame to reverse meaning. Select and ignore aspects of words, actions and frame to emphasize and downplay various elements.  Things that could be reframed to help someone feel more powerful and effective would be like:

  • A problem as an opportunity

  • A weakness as a strength

  • An impossibility as a distant possibility

  • A distant possibility as a near possibility

  • Oppression ('against me') as neutral ('doesn't care about me')

  • Unkindness as lack of understanding

YOGA/EXERCISE

People who suffer from PTSD often experience difficulty regulating their fight-or-flight response. When we sense that we are unsafe, our sympathetic nervous system prepares us for fight or flight by triggering an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormone production. Those having experienced trauma can feel stuck in this response or experience it at random times.  Trauma-sensitive yoga works to control this response and calm the nervous system through deep, controlled diaphragmatic breathing. Not only does this allow students to regulate their breathing and emotional response; it also increases connection with both the body and mind.  This study's and this study results suggest the positive effects of aerobic exercise on reducing PTSD, depression, anxiety and may be valuable resource for managing treatment-resistant participants with PTSD.

EMBRACE YOUR INNER CHILD

To begin with, the inner child is real. Not literally. Nor physically. But figuratively, metaphorically real.

It is--like complexes in general--a psychological or phenomenological reality, and an extraordinarily powerful one at that. Indeed, most mental disorders and destructive behavior patterns are, as Freud first intimated, more or less related to this unconscious part of ourselves. We were all once children, and still have that child dwelling within us. But most adults are quite unaware of this. And this lack of conscious relatedness to our own inner child is precisely where so many behavioral, emotional and relationship difficulties stem from.  The writing of Dr. Eric BerneDr. Alice Miller, Louise Hay or John Bradshaw  all have gone further in depth and are worth exploring further.

PUT IT IN A SMALL BOX

POSSIBLE THINKING &

Put negative stuff in a box....Seeing a tiny box in your mind shows the actual size of the problem and helps you feel more confident that you can take it on.

Try the power of possible thinking...

suggests a technique called possible thinking, which involves reaching for neutral thoughts about the situation and naming the facts. "I'm a fat cow" becomes "I'd like to lose 10 pounds. I know how to do it." The facts give you a lot more choices and directions you can go in.

NAME YOUR CRITIC

Naming our inner critic gives us a visual of that that negative, discouraging voice. When we give it a name, particularly a goofy name, the feeling becomes less powerful and can neutralize his/her effect. Thinking about what they might look and sound like helps, for once we see or hear that voice differently, we disassociate from it and can deal with the harsh words quickly and objectively.  I chose Stewy because of his silly voice and his outrageous plans makes "the inner critic" dialog more comical.  Naming your inner critic after a real person gives them too much free time in your head.  

Meet Stewy!  He's my Inner Critic    

BIOFEEDBACK

Neurofeedback is based on two basic concepts. The first is that we can measure the electrical activity of the brain and that this activity reflects mental states. The second is that this activity can be improved with training. Although the technology is complex, the process is simple, painless, and non-invasive. It is just learning. You learn to alter your brain activity the same way you learn every other skill. You learn through feedback and practice.  With every repetition of a thought or emotion, we reinforce a neural pathway - and with each new thought, we begin to create a new way of being. These small changes, frequently enough repeated, lead to changes in how our brains work. 

Neuroplasticity is the 'muscle building' part of the brain; the things we do often we become stronger better at, what we don’t use fades away. That is the physical basis of why making a thought or action over and over again increases its power. Over time, it becomes automatic; a part of us. We literally become what we think and do.

NeuroLinguistic Programming

According to the Oxford English Dictionary. - Neuro-Linguistic Programming: is "a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behavior and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them" and "a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behavior."

I was lucky enough to have worked with an NLP trained therapist who exploring my filters, experiences and my language found many ways in which I can help myself by looking at things differently.  NLP is a system with multiple tools that can help you take control of how you process previous experiences.  Reframing is one of these tools.

Sources

REFRAMING

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