When you’ve experienced a traumatic event or lived under traumatic conditions, it can manifest into significant mental health challenges. One of the most common challenges among those who’ve experienced trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. No matter what brought on your PTSD or how long you’ve been self-managing it, have hope. Navigate life with PTSD and learn how to cope today and embark on a journey toward greater healing tomorrow.

1. Work With Experts to Guide Your Healing Journey

You don’t have to battle PTSD alone and ideally, you won’t have to. More research is being done to learn about PTSD and figure out how to help people whose traumas differ. In the past, PTSD was largely associated with those returning from combat. However, PTSD can occur from many sources, and how and if it presents differs on the person and their background.

An individual working as a first-responder knows chaos is the norm and it’s their job to be calm. However, if a run hits too close to home, it can result in an avalanche of suppressed emotions. Years of memories of other people’s worst days can result in a breakdown that’s hard to come back from alone. This can devolve into PTSD, which not only impacts one’s quality of life but in this case, their livelihood.

Luckily, there are experts who’ve dedicated their careers to helping others out of the dark place of PTSD. Licensed therapists, counselors, doctors, nurses, and support staff specialize in PTSD and know the therapies and treatments that are effective. Ask for a referral from your primary physician, or research therapists or mental health rehab options online. Schedule a visit to tour the facilities, meet with providers, and learn about their specialties to find the right fit.

life with ptsd

2. Set Boundaries and Build a Supportive Network

The busyness of life doesn’t lend itself to deep conversations, even if you’re spending time with someone you trust. Despite the demands of daily life, having a supportive network and friends is crucial for managing your life with PTSD. Time with your therapist or at a treatment facility is limited, so developing support outside of professional care is critical. Plus, the goal of treating your PTSD is to be able to navigate your regular life fully.

Write (or type) out a list of the people you spend the most time with, resisting the urge to exclude anyone just yet. The people you spend time with, no matter the reason, have a large influence on how we see the world. If the people you work with are kind and supportive, that will help make whatever work you do more enjoyable. However, if they’re mean-spirited and uncooperative, your outlook toward each workday is probably negative. Complete this exercise by examining those you spend time with, where, how often, and how you feel during and afterward.

Next, take a look at those you’ve associated with feelings of negativity. Discuss boundary-setting strategies with your therapist or trusted friend, which you’ll use to step back from negative relationships. Limit your interactions or, if the relationship is irreparably toxic, your healing journey may necessitate eliminating it. Restore relationships by spending time with others who build you up, care about your well-being, and make you feel safe. Schedule a coffee to start reconnecting old bonds and building new ones on your journey toward healing.

3. Prioritize and Protect Self-Care Practices

How you treat your body influences how your mind perceives your reality. While it might sound far-fetched, consider how great you felt the last time you spent the weekend on the couch. The self-imposed lazy day may have been fun initially, but doing nothing tends to spark feelings of regret when overdone. Instead, put your total well-being first, shake up your routine, and support your mental health journey.

Exercise is a well-known mood improver and incorporating it into your routine is easier than you might think. Research has shown that regular exercise can lead to decreased stress—a core component of PTSD. Take a post-dinner walk to get fresh air and catch up with your family or a friend sans screen. By combining physical activity with social connection, you’ll implement your other PTSD recovery tactics.

Self-care goes beyond physical activity and into how you care for and celebrate your body. Schedule and keep your healthcare, eye, and dental appointments. Be mindful of your nutrition, focusing mostly on whole foods and limiting refined and processed treats. Prioritize dressing in clothes that make you feel good, get your hair cut, and if you like to, wear makeup. Honor your body by caring for it well, even as you’re navigating PTSD, and you’ll improve your feelings of self-worth.

Honor Your Healing Journey With Self-Compassion

Be patient with yourself as you try new therapies, strategies, and methods to manage your PTSD. How PTSD impacts your life will be unique to you, and you can’t always separate yourself from your triggers. Keep a journal to document your progress, making note of how you feel and logging major milestones. You’ll gain a clear picture of how far you’ve come, documenting the hard work you’ve put into your healing journey. Be compassionate with yourself, place trust in your care team, lean on your network, and start healing.