How to turn Post Traumatic Stress into Post Traumatic Growth: Part 1

Feel safe and in control

These ideas are more appropriate for people who normally feel safe in the present but may have some troubling issues with past events. This is not psychological first aid nor psychotherapy for trauma. Please be assessed by a professional if you have symptoms that negatively impact your life.



Research shows that after a traumatic event, the majority of people move forward with their lives with no major aftereffects. And some people even experience post-traumatic growth as a result of their resilience. What are some ways that you can turn post-traumatic stress into post-traumatic growth?


  • Spend time with supportive people. Your social network is important and spending time together is much better than texting, etc. Isolation can be counterproductive, so accept and extend invitations to be together. Many times, being with someone will give you a feeling of safety and support.
  • Develop some self-soothing skills to feel in control. Engage in daily practices that short-circuit the overwhelm of traumatic memories and return you to some sort of equilibrium. After you have developed a skill set to stay in the present, you can expose yourself to some mildly triggering environments and over time and repetition, develop more resilience around triggers. For all of these practices, either gently keep your mind blank, or focus on the present, real, moment. If you continue to “get hijacked” you will want to access professional interventions.
    • Focused, relaxed breathing with slow exhalations.
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
    • Listening to calming music and singing (especially in a choir or group)
    • Meditation
    • Prayer and reading Holy Books
    • Inhale soothing aromas
    • Get a massage
    • Soak in a tub of water or go swimming
    • Exercise
    • Go jogging
    • Lift weights
    • Do some push-ups or jog in place
    • Go hiking or walking in nature
    • Play a musical instrument
    • Paint, draw, or sculpt— even fingerpainting and coloring mandelas with crayons can be soothing.
    • Take your mind to a peaceful place and focus on each of your senses.
    • Play a sport that you are confident in and not too competitive.
    • Pet or groom/bathe an animal
    • Organize a closet or a drawer
    • Do some yoga. Focus on your breath.
    • Turn on a movie you know well, and see if you can say the script along with the actors. Choose a movie that won’t trigger flashbacks.
    • Write in your journal.
    • Hug or cuddle with someone if it feels safe.
    • Get your feet flat on the ground (barefoot is best), and rub your hands on the chair or floor and remind yourself, “I am here, in this place, and I’m safe. I’m securely grounded in reality.”
    • Prepare some food or tea and slowly savor every taste and sensation in preparing and consuming it.
    • Work in your flower or vegetable garden.


These strategies could work to interrupt a memory that might hijack you in the moment. When you feel like you have some tools to ground yourself in reality, you may feel more confident in your ability to deal with setbacks. Then you may want to look at some more options for Post-Traumatic Growth in my next posts.

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