“Always remember, if you have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, it is not a sign of weakness; rather, it is proof of your strength, for you have survived!” – HappyPlace.com 

June is PTS Awareness Month. Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) is a serious mental health issue that may be brought about by an overwhelming traumatic event or prolonged trauma. There is a wide spectrum of symptoms that can include everything from hypervigilance, anxiety, heightened reactions and avoidance of events to lack of sleep, depression and other serious mental and physical reactions. While there may be moments where people coping with this experience feelings of hopelessness, the good news is that it is possible to recover from PTS. 

Whether you or someone you love have recently been diagnosed with PTS or are just looking for ways to cope, there is a wide spectrum of different mental health practices you can choose to partake in that can create ways for you to cope with symptoms and live a healthy life. PTS is a serious battle many face, but it doesn’t have to get the better of you. You can use recreational therapy and other mental health practices to help cope in healthy and meaningful ways. Here are 4 practices that can help people dealing with PTS:

1. Recreational Therapy 

The term Recreational Therapy is used to describe the use of physical activity to address mental health concerns. This method is great because it helps on a physical, neurological and mental level. Physical activities can help boost chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin which combat symptoms like anxiety and depression, two symptoms that are common for people dealing with PTS.

2. Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness practices can range from meditation to grounding techniques like deep breathing, mantras or even carrying grounding objects. Mindfulness is about pulling your mind back to the present moment when you feel anxiety or other negative feelings arise. 

3. Support Groups

Support groups or other group activities with people who may be experiencing or have experienced some of the same symptoms can help you feel seen and understood making it easier to release emotions and improve your ability to cope with triggers. Don’t be afraid to talk about the symptoms you may be experiencing with people you trust or medical professionals.

4. Spending Time in Nature

Spending time outdoors has proven mental and physical health benefits that improve your ability to cope with symptoms of PTS. Here are a few facts from the American Psychological Association about how getting outside can improve your overall wellness: 

  • Experiments have found that being exposed to natural environments improves working memory, cognitive flexibility and attentional control 
  • Contact with nature is associated with increases in happiness, subjective well-being, positive affect, positive social interactions and a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as decreases in mental distress. 
  • A Study found people who had spent at least two recreational hours in nature during the previous week reported significantly greater health and well-being. 
  • Both green spaces and blue spaces (aquatic environments) produce well-being benefits. More remote and biodiverse spaces may be particularly helpful, though even urban parks and trees can lead to positive outcomes. 

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