Whether you suffer from PTSD, anxiety, depression, or any other disorder, it is not easy. I found some techniques I would like to share with you guys that help alleviate my PTSD. Ever since the attack, I have had to deal with many problems. A couple months after the trauma my PTSD had gotten so bad that I really had to find some activities to help calm and settle me. These were things I needed to do in addition to my weekly therapy sessions. Some of the activities that I tried were yoga, rock climbing, hiking, massages, warms baths, and photography.
Yoga: I started doing yoga when I was in high school. I never practiced consistently, but I always felt amazing afterwards and noticed I felt less stressed out. So when my stress was on overload and I was having panic attacks multiple times a week, I knew yoga would be a great way to unwind.
Just getting myself up and out the door was a struggle in itself. I didn’t want to go anywhere alone because I had a lot of trouble trusting strangers and managing my PTSD symptoms. At first I would only go with friends, which was a great strategy to help me become comfortable with a new environment. Going with a friend created a safe zone and it would push me to interact with other people that were there as well. After a few weeks of going somewhere new with friends, I was comfortable going by myself.
When you first start going to yoga it can be difficult to get into the positions and to focus your mind. Yoga is a practice. So if at first you don’t think yoga is for you, just remember that practice will make it easier, and don’t give up!
Yoga helps me mentally. It calms fight or flight instincts into rest and digest. For someone that has PTSD and is almost always in fight or flight mode, yoga is a huge relief. Additionally, it can remedy insecurity issues, build self-awareness, and more!
Yoga is almost everywhere and is extremely affordable. I have gone to studios where it was strictly donation-based and others that had set class prices or packages. For anyone that wants to do yoga but is struggling money-wise, I recommend you look for a donation-based studio. Many studios offer the first week free. If you are interested in CorePower Yoga, it offers a free week to new customers. Their CoreRestore class is my favorite– it focuses more on the breathing and meditating rather than a workout. https://www.corepoweryoga.com
Rock Climbing: Another activity that I tried to de-stress was rock climbing. I dated a guy that was really into rock climbing. I always listened to him boast about the sport and he told me it helped a lot with his anxiety. Hearing that it helped with anxiety immediately intrigued me, and I wanted to try it out. When I was dating him I just had gotten a breast augmentation, so I was physically unable to do the sport.
A couple months later, I had healed enough from my surgery to give rock climbing a go. No longer dating the guy that brought rock climbing to my attention, I researched local places to go to for a beginners class. With rock climbing, having knowledge in the sport is extremely important. It’s so important to be safe when you get so high up because if you fall you can lose your life or badly injure yourself. With safety as my top priority, I started with a beginner class.
The beginners class was great! I learned about basic safety and some of the knots you needed to know in order to be connected to the wall and harness. I learned how to belay and properly repel down the wall. Rock climbing requires a partner unless you are bouldering. When you boulder you don’t use ropes, instead you use pads for safety if you fall.
A lot of my friends weren’t really into rock climbing, so I ended up bouldering. It was nice being able to focus on myself, the moment, and my fear of heights. I found gyms that were just strictly just for bouldering and really felt great afterwards. When I’m on the wall all I can think about is climbing, so I can’t let my mind wander. Rock climbing is also all about breath control too, so it teaches you to focus on your breath. Like yoga, rock climbing can help you a lot mentally, and is great if you’re struggling with anything mentally.
Hiking: Hiking is one of my favorite activities. It’s one of my favorites because I really enjoy being one with nature, I get to exercise, and I get to be with my dog, Cash. When I’m on a hike, I just get a sense of peace and I feel like everything is going to be alright in life. Also, hiking is usually free!
There are many great places to hike in southern California. There is the Newport Back Bay, Top of the World in Laguna Beach, El Morro, Whiting Ranch, and so many more great places. I think California is one of the best places for hiking because it has various environments. Whether you’re in the mood for the beach, or somewhere with a desert, you can always find what you’re looking for.
Hiking is really great for mental health. When you’re doing any type of exercise, whether it’s yoga, rock climbing, or hiking, your body releases endorphins that make you feel great. Whenever I finish a hike, I feel amazing and de-stressed.
Massages: Whenever you get stressed or have anxiety, it effects your body physically. I carry a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders– that is my stress zone. To help this I try to get a massage once a month, and when I was really struggling with my PTSD, I tried to go once a week.
After my attack I really felt uncomfortable being touched, so I would not only get massages to relax and pamper myself, but it was used as a type of exposure therapy. When I first went to get a massage after the attack, every time the massage therapist touched me I would immediately flinch. I was stiff and not able to relax or really enjoy my massage. After about 4 months of consistently going, I was able to finally relax and enjoy my massages again.
Massages have a lot of benefits other than helping someone with exposure therapy. They can help with lowering a persons cortisol levels, which reduces the contribution to weight gain, headaches, sleep problems, and digestive problems. There are so many great benefits other than promoting mental health. I have attached a link where you can get into deep details about the health benefits of a massage. http://www.body-mindmassage.com/7-benefits-of-massage-therapy/
Warm Baths: I absolutely love taking warm baths! You can take one in the comfort of your own house and just relax. You may not have enough time to go get a massage, go on a hike, or really do anything else. Sometimes you absolutely need to treat yourself and get away for a little bit, and the bath is a perfect place.
For my baths I really enjoy bath bombs! My favorite bath bombs are from Lush. I really like Lush because the products are organic, handmade, and not tested on animals. My favorite bath bomb is called Twilight and is from Lush; it gets me in the mood to go to sleep. There are so many great bath bombs to choose from at Lush. https://www.lushusa.com/bath/bath-bombs/
Taking time for yourself is really important. If you are stressed it’s easy to just continue to be stressed. When you step out of it and do something for yourself, it can help balance and calm you.
Photography: Finding a creative outlet to express yourself can be used as a form of therapy. Some people prefer to draw, sculpt, or design clothes, but my creative outlet is photography. Taking a photo allows me to capture the beauty that surrounds me. I prefer to take pictures of nature and people in nature. I love seeing visuals of everything great that God has created. Whenever I’m behind the lens of a camera, I feel like I am one with nature and everything around me.
These 6 activities really help me de-stress and get rid of unwanted anxiety. They are great for you mentally and physically. My PTSD was so terrible a couple months after my trauma, so finding all these activities helped me deal with that. I wasn’t working and had so much time for myself, and I was also thankful for that. When you are going through any type of trauma, or even just having everyday anxiety, it’s extremely important to find ways to manage it.
I really wanted to share these activities because not a lot of people have the resources I did, so it’s important to know there are so many things to help you through trauma. If you feel that none of these activities are for you, then you can find something that you enjoy to promote your mental health. I care about all of you and hope you guys all find an activity that brings you peace.
xoxo Terra Newell