How to Self-Soothe During Complex PTSD Triggers


The dreaded PTSD trigger. Sad to say, more people suffer from it than you might think. Many veterans suffer from PTSD at one point in their lives.

Being triggered can be hard for anyone since it can send you back to a really bad place. For people who have Complex PTSD, triggers can be even more devastating.

We are here to help prepare you for what you might have to go through. Keep reading to learn some Self-soothing tips that will help while dealing with complex PTSD triggers. Read on!

Recognizing Your Triggers

First and foremost, to self-soothe, it is essential to become aware of and recognize your triggers. Triggers can be emotional, physical, or even certain times of day, people, or places.

Talking to a trusted friend or therapist like Davenport Psychology can be helpful in identifying your triggers. It is because they oftentimes can be connected to underlying emotions.

It is important to continue to practice self-care and know PTSD treatments. Ensure adequate nutrition, sleep, and activities that provoke joy and meaning in life are included in daily routines.

Use Grounding Techniques

Using grounding techniques to self-soothe during complex PTSD triggers can be very helpful. You can try the grounding technique below.

Focusing on Your Five Senses

Start by noticing your environment with all of your senses. What do you hear? Take a few moments to listen to the rhythm around you.

When you become overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths and identify five things you can see. Next, identify four things you can touch and then three things you can hear. Know the two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.

Is the temperature comfortable and what can you feel? Are there movements that are pleasant or calming? Focus on the textures that you can feel.

Focus on sight, appreciating the colors that bring joy or peace of mind. Through this practice, you can often bring yourself to a calmer mental state. Allowing yourself to be mindful and connect with the present moment can be beneficial.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Self-soothing during complex PTSD triggers can be difficult. But, Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) is a great way to reduce anxiety and lessen the intensity of flashbacks and triggers.

PMR involves tensing and releasing different muscle groups. It starts at the feet and works your way up. To start, take a few deep breaths to relax and tune into the sensations in your body.


When you tense the muscles, hold them for a few seconds then fully release and feel the difference between the tension and relaxation. As you move up your body, notice the sensation in each muscle as it moves through the tension and the relaxation. Pay attention to how the feelings change as the relaxation increases.

When complete, take some deep breaths and notice the relaxed feeling in your body.

Journaling or Writing About You’re Feeling

Journaling or writing about your feelings during a panic attack can help to express your thoughts and feelings in a safe, private setting. It will not be judged or responded to. Writing can be cathartic or calming, allowing you to express your emotions without fear of judgment or criticism.

It can bring you into a state of relaxation and help you be more objective about your triggers and how to react to them. It’s also an effective way to gain clarity on your feelings and thoughts by seeing them written down on the page. On top of that, journaling can be used to set goals and track progress.

The act of journaling can itself become a form of self-care. It is by providing space and time for reflection and personal growth. Writing can be used to express deep emotions that you can’t articulate in any other way.

Focus On Creating a Safe Space To Feel Supported

By creating a safe space, you can able center and focus your attention on the present moment. It is important to ensure that the space is quiet and comfortable. Eliminate any distractions such as television or noise.

While forming a safe space to self-soothe, it is important to remember to take one moment at a time and that one can get through it. It can be helpful to have available a support system of family and friends. This support system can provide guidance and understanding in times of need, allowing you to feel a sense of safety.

Use Targeted Breathing Exercises

Targeted breathing exercises can be an effective way to reduce stress and relax. During a trigger, take slow deep breaths, focusing on the sensations of your breath entering and leaving your body. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the calming effects of each breath.

Take your time and count to four as you breathe in, and then hold the breath for four counts before slowly releasing to a count of four. Repeat this process up to 20 times and take a few moments to notice how it has affected your body’s physical and emotional state. As you move through your day, you can return to this deep breathing exercise.

Identify Distracting Activities to Calm the Nervous System

It is also important to identify specific activities that divert your attention away from the trigger. It can be repeating affirmations, engaging in light physical activity, taking a walk, going for a drive, talking to a friend or family member, listening to calming music, or watching a movie. Finding ways to make yourself laugh, such as reading a funny book or playing a game is also beneficial.

You must also disengage from the situation. To disengage, you should identify which emotions are present. Once the emotion has settled, it can be helpful to move away from the situation and do something else to bring your mind and body back to a calm place.

Self-care activities are especially important in aiding with complex PTSD triggers, as they can offer physical and emotional comfort when you are feeling overwhelmed. By creating a kit of calming activities, distractions, and self-care practices, you can stay prepared and self-soothe more effectively during complex PTSD triggers.

Learning to Self-Soothe Complex PTSD Triggers

Complex PTSD triggers can be difficult to manage. So, it is important to practice self-care by finding your own unique methods of self-soothing. Through this process, you can learn how to better navigate the difficult stimuli and emotions associated with these triggers.

If you want to learn more, contact a mental health professional today.

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