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How to Relieve Signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Part of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Dummies Cheat Sheet

You can work to get your Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms under control — and calm the signs of distress when they intensify — by taking some of these quick and easy stress-busting steps:

  • Starting with your feet and working upward, tense each part of your body for a few seconds and then relax it.

  • Visualize a wonderful, relaxing place — for instance, a deserted beach or a cozy chair by the fireplace — and go there in your mind. If you become distracted, think about a parent, sibling, friend, teacher or other person who was there for you during a tough time and imagine that person saying to you, “Hang in there. You can get through this. You can handle this.” Then, gently bring your attention back to your mental paradise.

  • Think of three big or little things you’re grateful for in your life — for example, your best friend, your cat, or even your favorite CD.

  • Give your confidence a boost by thinking of something important you’ve learned, accomplished, or overcome, such as learning how to create a Web site, running your first 5K race, or passing a hard class in school.

  • Do 20 to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise. If you find yourself getting distracted or not being able to keep going, imagine a close friend or family member rooting you on.

  • Use an anchor — an object you can touch or look at, such as a ring or a photo, that reminds you of a happy place or time or of a person you love. Think of the place you went to when you were growing up to calm yourself down — was it your room? Your yard? A park? A long drive in a car? The beach?

  • Distract yourself — read a book, clean out a closet, plant some tomatoes, or exercise your creative interests. Better yet, watch a funny movie (because laughter really is good medicine).

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