With Hallowe’en last night and Bonfire Night on 5th November just around the corner, this time of year is often especially challenging for people who, like many of the people our SAN team work with, have experienced an acute stress reaction or live with PTSD.
It’s important to recognise that you or those around you might find the sudden bangs and flashes distressing and to consider how you are going to prepare for this period, or respond if something unexpected happens.
There are a number of good advice resources available online to help you cope during this period, including this one from MIND.
Many people find using ‘Grounding’ or ‘Mindfulness’ helpful. Grounding techniques can keep you in the here-and-now and help you avoid feelings, memories, flashbacks or intrusive thoughts that you don’t feel able to cope with yet. They work by focussing on the sensations you are feeling right now:
- Listen to other sounds around you like birdsong, or music
- Notice the feel of your clothes against your body; the wind against your face and the ground beneath your feet; wrapping yourself in a blanket and feeling it around you
- Touch something or sniff something with a strong smell like perfume or something nice to eat
You might find it helpful to keep a box of things with different textures and smells (for example perfume, a blanket and some smooth stones) ready for when you need it.
Consider earphones for listening to music or noise-cancelling ones to minimise the sound.
It might be helpful to plan for the coming period and to consider where you will be on Bonfire Night. It could be particularly helpful to mention to family and friends how you are feeling. In the worst-case scenario, consider having an emergency plan so that people know how best to help you.
With luck, all of this will prove to be unnecessary, but please take care of yourselves during this noisy time.
If you would like to speak to a member of the Survivors Assistance Network team at the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation about this or anything else, please email us or ring 01925 581 240.
(SAN is not a 24/7 service, but all voice messages and emails left out of office hours will be responded to the next working day. If your need is urgent, please ring 111 or 999 as appropriate).
by Terry O’Hara – Survivors Assistance Network Manager