Updated: Aug 29
If you have been through trauma in the past or have PTSD, it is easy to become obsessed with the idea of safety. Your nervous system is constantly in a dysregulated state. You just want to go somewhere that things are safe and predictable.
Having a routine, and people that you can count on becomes very important.
Sometimes, it is easy to become overwhelmed with fears of things that could happen, especially when you are around situations or people that don't feel safe. You may need to take a step back, find somewhere you can go to be alone, and mentally regroup before you find the answer to whatever situation is going on in the moment.
There is what is happening in the world, and what is happening inside of you because of the situations around you.
If you have physical panic symptoms, it can be difficult at times to calm them down. Some things that help for me are:
Snuggling up in a blanket
When you combine some of these techniques, as well as making sure to tell yourself that you are safe, it can help to ease the panic feelings. Sometimes it can take several hours to do so, but it is possible.
I understand that it can be a struggle every day, and that even simple tasks can feel overwhelming. That is why it is so important to find a support system, of people who understand you and accept you the way you are.
Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in your own head and to feel like you are completely alone in the world. When you feel like that, finding like minded people to reassure you can be so helpful.
Since many of us who suffer trauma have difficulty with relationships, it can be helpful to work with a therapist or coach (or both!) to help you learn coping strategies, and to have a safe person to talk to.
If you don't want to go to therapy in person, you can even find therapists to work with online, and who will respond to you over text.
When you are having an especially difficult day, you can also reach out to a local crisis hotline, and find a professional who will talk you through your dark days.
You can also find support online through support groups. Many social media sites have support groups for trauma survivors where you can talk to other people who have been through similar situations to what you have gone through. This can help you feel less alone and isolated, all while keeping you in the comfort and safety of your home.
Regulating your nervous system
Some of the exercises that I mentioned earlier, such as deep breathing, can help you to regulate your nervous system when you feel like you are starting to panic or feel out of control.
Another thing that helps me to calm down when I am feeling really upset is to drink a big glass of water. It can have a simple, calming effect because when you drink water, it helps you put your breathing back to normal by swallowing. I know it sounds crazy, but it is super easy and helpful to do when you are feeling upset.
Slowing down your breathing helps to slow down your heartbeat. This can help you feel more in control of yourself by easing the physical panic symptoms which can be so troubling. It is hard to be calm mentally when you aren't calm physically.
Learning skills to regulate your nervous system, and ease your physical panic symptoms can go a long way towards helping you regulate your emotional symptoms as well.
Working on both physical and emotional symptoms of panic can help you have a balanced approach to learning to self soothe. Since this is a skill that many of us never learned in childhood, it can be quite helpful to learn as adults.
Remember, always be gentle with yourself.
You have gone through so much in life with coping with trauma, and have had people be unkind to you because of this. So being kind to yourself, and caring for yourself is one of the most important things that you can do.
You can do inner child work, or you can journal about your feelings. Either of these is a way to take control of your feelings, and your situation, as well.
As you are unlearning difficult lifetime patterns of coping skills that don't work, and building a new skillset, it is important to be kind to yourself. Be patient. Accept that there are times you won't always feel your best, and move slowly.
I hope that some of the things that have worked for me in coping with PTSD and panic attacks will work for you too, and help to bring you some peace on days that you are struggling. Eventually, those days will become fewer and further between them.