How do I deal with flashbacks?
Last Updated: 04/20/2021 at 5:24pm
Graham Barrone, Adip ICHP, MCBT
If you've found that your quality of life has reduced because of anxiety, fear or some kind of mental hurdle that you just can't get over then lets chat.
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Everyone copes with their own things differently, there is no right or wrong answer to this. I'll toss a few suggestions, in hope that they may be of use to you. You can talk to someone about how you're feeling, perhaps evaluate the trigger or just talk through what's happening. Grounding yourself using your 5 senses can be a great way to stabilise yourself. Distractions can also work well, whether it be watching something, or reading or anything you enjoy! Focusing on your steady breathing. There are many many more, but one thing I hope you can keep in mind is that you are so so strong. You are amazing, you got through this, and I have every bit of faith in you that you'll make it through. You got this.
First of all it is really important to get back the feeling of being in control of the situation. Remind yourself: It is over! I have survived this. So you can get back the stability. Afterwards you can think about what could have triggered the situation and if you could improve your reaction (maybe there is a special place or smell that calms you) but you can figure out that by yourself. Take your time.
Try to figure out what is triggering them. What are you thinking of doing before you have them and then deal with the trigger.
Grounding, reading the paper or a satire page. Watching a funny movie or soothing music. Square breathing helps too.
There's no specific way to deal with them. Either you forget them over time or they just stop bothering you.
Everybody is different. There is no one answer fits all. If you are having difficulties from flashbacks to a certain situation, perhaps speaking with a trusted person can help. You can also seek help from a counselor or therapist who can help you with coping skills to the situation.
All I can say is that you need to remember that what you're living now it's what is real. If this flashbacks are good, be happy. If they aren't, be happy also, because that means they already happened. Try to live one day at a time and forget about the past, because it's gone.
Flashbacks are something that almost everyone who had a traumatic experience has been through. I can tell you that it is very unpleasant, and it brings bad memories back. Some researches have shown that flashbacks can project almost the same experience of the said memory. To someone who lost someone dear before their very eyes, or has been raped, it can be a gruesome memento. Flashbacks occur when the brain has troubles moving on from the traumatic experience, and\or coping with it. It is best dealt with by avoiding triggers that cause flashbacks, and if they do occur, breathe calmly and wait for them to pass. It is the best solution ive found. I used to cry in my ex's arms during some of them and afterwards too. Human touch and comfort is the best way of coping with them after they substain.
I always try to find something to ground me in the present, focusing on each sense in turn. One way I do this is to find 5 things I can see, 4 things I can hear, 3 things I can feel, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste. Each thing has to be different from all of the others, so if you say you can see a bunch of flowers then you can't also say you can smell them. It helps put the focus back in the room instead of inside my head and helps break out of the flashback.
When I have flashbacks I tend to do deep breathing exercises as I open and shut my hand giving me a visual to focus on that is real and current. This helps me shift my focus and remind my consciousness that I am safe and I am in my present. Flashbacks can throw me into an anxiety attack at times and if it gets to that point I have found ice is helpful for me. It is extremely grounding. I will place it in my mouth focusing on the could and breathing through my nose as I process how I am ok and this will pass.
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