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    Mindfulness Skills to Cope with Trauma & Anxiety

    You’re having a normal day but suddenly become scared or intensely sad. Your breathing increases and you feel on edge. Other times you become tired, and your surroundings seem foggy and dreamlike. Noises sound far away or like they’re coming from a tunnel. What could be going on?

    You may be experiencing a trauma flashback. A flashback is when you relive parts of a trauma or feel as if the trauma is happening again in the present moment. Flashbacks are usually triggered by something in the present that reminds the brain of a past disturbing incident. When it’s triggered, the brain has trouble distinguishing the past from the present, causing you to feel disconnected, scared, or anxious.

    What are Trauma Triggers?

     Trauma triggers are any stimuli that involuntarily cause an individual to recall a disturbing or upsetting event. Triggers can include smells, images, activities, sounds, thoughts, places, or people. It is helpful to recognize your trauma triggers so that you can learn how to cope with them. Writing down thoughts, actions, and anything else preceding a flashback is a helpful way to identify trauma triggers.

    How Mindfulness Can Help

    Mindfulness is the act of practicing present moment awareness by focusing your attention to whatever is happening in the moment. Mindfulness can reassure a triggered mind that you are safe in the present and not back in the past. In addition to focusing awareness on the present, mindfulness also encourages acknowledgment of emotions without judgment. This practice can help you learn to regulate and accept your emotions as they come.

    Mindfulness Exercises

    There are many exercises and techniques to help you strengthen mindfulness skills. Below are some introductory exercises to start practicing mindfulness. These exercises can be helpful when experiencing anxiety, intrusive thoughts, worry, or flashbacks.

    5 and Describe: Engage each of your five senses to increase your awareness of the present moment.  List and describe 5 things you can see, touch, smell, hear, and taste in the present. Having mints or candy on hand can be helpful for engaging the sense of taste.

    Deep Breathing: Slowing down your breathing can help calm the nervous system. Focus on your breathing and pay special attention to how the air feels in your lungs as you slowly inhale and exhale. When you find your attention drifting to troubling thoughts or memories, gently bring your attention back to your breathing.

    Anchors: Select neutral objects in your home or workspace that can be used as “anchors” to secure or anchor you to the present. When triggered, focus your attention on one of your anchors until you begin to feel a sense of calm.

    Stretching: Being aware of body sensations is another way to stay present in the moment. Engage in some gentle stretching while being cognizant of how your muscles and body feel during each movement. Gently twisting the spine is a great way to increase the brain’s alertness and your awareness of the present.

    Get Started with Therapy for Trauma and Anxiety

    I provide therapy for individuals seeking trauma healing and anxiety management. If you’re interested in learning about how therapy can help you better manage symptoms and overcome triggers, contact me today to set up an appointment.

    Online Locations: Nashville, Tennessee – Brentwood, Tennessee – Knoxville, Tennessee – Chattanooga, Tennessee – Memphis, Tennessee – Augusta, Georgia – Atlanta, Georgia – Athens, Georgia –  Savannah, Georgia – Evans, Georgia – Macon, Georgia – Surrounding Tennessee & Georgia Area


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