Trauma can leave us with a veritable mix of side effects that can linger, and for some, events like Halloween can trigger our PTSD and fear response.
While this time of year can be fun for those who enjoy dressing up and taking in ghoulish festivities, scary imagery and people in masks can make for frightening conditions for those who suffer from PTSD.
For me, it terrifies me that I cannot see the person’s face, who may be approaching me, talking to me or even someone else who might not have safe intentions. Since I am always on guard and hypervigilant, all those unknowns exacerbate my symptoms. [The Mighty]
If you are dealing with PTSD triggers during Halloween events or social settings, here’s some ways to cope:
- Grounding: this is a technique to bring you back to the present moment. You can do this in a variety of ways, try counting something (number of tiles, number of people, etc.). Alternatively, try naming everything you see (a person,
- Deep breathing: in times of high anxiety or stress, deep breathing helps our bodies slow down.
- Move: getting your body moving helps release endorphins, and exercise has been shown to greatly ease PTSD symptoms, especially when we’re feeling triggered.
- Make a plan: if possible, try to make a plan prior to heading into a situation where you feel you may be triggered. Think about an exit strategy, have some coping mechanisms prepared and possibly, opt not to go at all.
“Mindfulness, or paying attention to your thoughts and feelings, helps us to be aware of out-of-sync moments and can bring the conversation back into the safety zone.” – Kim Barthel, from ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’
And don’t forget about self-care. It’s always important to practice self-care and kindness with ourselves when coping with PTSD, and even when we are with others, be mindful of our own needs.
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