Tips on coping with flashbacks

Flashbacks can be very distressing, but there are things you can do that might help. You could:

Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can keep you connected to the present and help you cope with flashbacks or intrusive thoughts. For example, you could describe your surroundings out loud or count objects of a particular type or colour.

  • Tell yourself that you are safe. It may help to tell yourself that the trauma is over and you are safe now. It can be hard to think in this way during a flashback, so it could help to write down or record some useful phrases at a time when you’re feeling better.
  • Carry an object that reminds you of the present. Some people find it helpful to touch or look at a particular object during a flashback. This might be something you decide to carry in your pocket or bag, or something that you have with you anyway, such as a keyring or a piece of jewellery.
  • Comfort yourself. For example, you could curl up in a blanket, cuddle a pet, listen to soothing music or watch a favourite film.
  • Keep a diary. Making a note of what happens when you have a flashback could help you spot patterns in what triggers these experiences for you. You might also learn to notice early signs that they are beginning to happen.
  • Focus on your breathing. When you are frightened, you might stop breathing normally. This increases feelings of fear and panic, so it can help to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five.
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