Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can affect anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. It’s most commonly associated with combat veterans and other victims of horrific violence, but it is also seen in victims of domestic physical abuse. Symptoms of PTSD include negative thoughts, mood changes, anxiety, hypervigilance, sleep problems, and flashback to traumatic events. These symptoms can be severe and can be triggered by any reminders of previous trauma.

Although you should seek professional help if you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, there are coping mechanisms that you can use on your own. For example, you can begin by monitoring yourself to keep track of what might trigger a PTSD response. You might not even be entirely aware of your triggers, and having them show up in your day-to-day life can make you feel like your emotions are out of control. These triggers can range from a relatively innocent joke on a TV show to someone who acts like your abuser. Writing down what these triggers are, where you are likely to encounter them, and how they affect you can be a significant first step in coping with your PTSD.

Another way to cope with PTSD symptoms is to seek out support from others. This can (and should) include a professional therapist, but it also provides family and friends. Being able to talk to someone you trust can be a great way to process what you feel when you are triggered. If you feel like you don’t have anyone you can trust, there are plenty of support groups who will be more than willing to listen to what you have to say. You can find these groups through your doctor, your church, a community bulletin, or even online. Discussing past physical abuse with someone else can be very difficult, but always remember that there are people who will listen to you when you’re ready to talk.

Finally, merely keeping yourself busy can be a great distraction from some of your PTSD symptoms. Some people have been able to channel their anxiety into the energy they need to complete chores around the house. In contrast, others find that regular exercise can distract them from negative thoughts. If you do exercise, stick to aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, or biking. These kinds of activities keep you moving, which puts your attention on your body and not on any traumatic responses.

PTSD is something that is often misunderstood by the general public, but it affects millions of people around the world. While you should always seek professional help if you believe that you are living with PTSD, these coping mechanisms can help you safely control your anxiety and negative thoughts until you feel like you are ready to speak to a professional.                                                    

PTSD is something that is often misunderstood by the general public, but it affects millions of people around the world. While you should always seek professional help if you believe that you are living with PTSD, these coping mechanisms can help you safely control your anxiety and negative thoughts until you feel like you are ready to speak to a professional.