Thrive On Purpose

5 Ways To Manage Flashbacks from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

trauma recovery Jun 20, 2022

As a Complex PTSD survivor, I can hand on heart say the worst advice I EVER got was to "know your triggers". The best advice was this...

"Stay grounded"

To this day it's something that makes me realise, even a small action can have a huge positive impact.

When you have PTSD, it can be difficult to stay grounded in the present. Every day is a battle against your own mind. A mind that decides to constantly throw flashbacks your way when you least expect it. And something you can't always prepare for because you literally have no idea what triggers you until it does.

Flashbacks can be incredibly overwhelming and cause you to feel like you are reliving the traumatic event all over again. When you have complex PTSD, it's not just one event, they come in the bucket load all at the same time and leave you feeling completely disoriented. I know how hard it can be hard to stay grounded when everything feels like it's spinning out of control, and how difficult it can be when you're trying to make sure it doesn't impact you making a living to pay the bills.

Even after my trauma therapy, my flashbacks were a regular event but slowly decreased over time.

In this blog post, I'll share five ways that will help you to stay grounded when you have a flashback, and how to recognise when you're having one.


1.Recognise And Acknowledge it

For me, the sign I was having a flashback was this. I would be watching something or doing a normal everyday activity. Something would happen, it could be a noise or something on TV, and I would just freeze. I wouldn't know why but then I'd get a sliver of a memory from one of my traumatic events. And as weird as it may seem, recognise it's there and embrace it.


2.Say Your Name

The minute I felt it I would tell myself I'm having a flashback and it's ok because I'm safe now. I'd say my name to myself and today's date until I felt like I was back in the room. Sometimes this would mean repeating it a few times.


3.What's around you

Bringing and keeping yourself into the present is vital. I would literally look around the place I was in when it happened, and tell myself what I was seeing, how it looked, how it felt etc.


4.Make yourself feel safe

I'd then get myself home from wherever I was,  grab something hot to drink, snuggle up under the duvet in my room and hug myself if my husband wasn't around, until I felt safe.


5.Write down what triggered you

Now, this doesn't mean you will know all your triggers in advance. You're just writing what actually triggered you this time, so you can be more aware the next time. It's not always the case that what triggered you before will trigger you again. But you'll be able to prepare yourself more.

If you KNOW you are having flashbacks and haven't got professional help as yet, please find a qualified trauma therapist. As a coach, I help people who have had a PTSD or Complex PTSD diagnosis already and are in the recovery phase, or getting back into creating and living their life.

It's vital that you get the specialised help you need initially to help process the flashbacks in a safe way and understand why they are happening.

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