Congratulations on completing a course of TMS treatments for PTSD! We want you to continue to feel the benefits of TMS in the long-term. This is why we recommend a varied approach to handling PTSD. By following just a couple positive lifestyle habits, you can help the benefits of TMS therapy remain consistent.
While TMS therapy can help to reduce or eliminate your PTSD symptoms, it’s also important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle and watch out for returning symptoms. By doing so, you can protect your well-being and get the right kind of support should you need it.
How to Maintain a PTSD-Free Lifestyle
TMS therapy can significantly reduce your PTSD symptoms in the long-term, but you can boost its effectiveness on your own! Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you manage any remaining symptoms and prevent relapse. If you’re a survivor of trauma, there are many coping mechanisms to help you manage your emotional pain.
Joining a support group, where you talk with and listen to other survivors, can help you to feel less isolated. People in support groups offer:
- Concrete advice on how to deal with difficult experiences
The routine of going to a support group regularly can also be comforting.
PTSD symptoms can be very distressing, so a few relaxation techniques are great to have in your toolbox. They’ll help reduce your stress and give you some peace of mind.
- Meditation (useful apps include Headspace®, Calm, and InsightTimer)
- Listening to calming music
- Spending time in nature
Positive Distracting Activities
Sometimes it’s necessary to distract yourself from painful memories and your reactions to them. You can do this by engaging in positive activities, which are different for everyone. You might find positivity and a boost in mood from:
- A hobby
- Your work
- Expressing yourself artistically
PTSD can cause sleep problems, either making it difficult to fall asleep or disrupting your sleep. A lack of restful sleep and insomnia can make PTSD symptoms worse, so it’s important to stick to habits that improve your quality of sleep, such as :
- Regular exercise
- A healthy and balanced diet – Avoid eating late at night or indulging in spicy or overly fatty foods close to bedtime. Doing so makes it difficult to fall asleep.
- Relaxation techniques
- Limits on your caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Avoiding your devices (like smartphones) late at night – They emit blue light, which keeps you alert.
Avoid Negative Coping Mechanisms
There are many coping mechanisms that are unhealthy in nature and only serve to make your problem worse. Negative coping strategies include:
- Using alcohol and drugs – Many people with PTSD use these to bury painful memories, but this coping mechanism can lead to abuse, dependency, addiction, and issues at work and in your relationships.
- Social withdrawal – You may isolate yourself to avoid triggering situations, but when you do, PTSD symptoms can build. Withdrawal prevents you from learning how to cope with challenging experiences in an effective way. Also, shutting yourself off from the world means less social support and fewer positive activities.
- Continual avoidance – While distracting yourself from your trauma is sometimes necessary, it shouldn’t become the norm. If you always avoid thinking about it, then you can’t learn how to cope with your emotional pain and its consequences.
Learn about positive coping mechanisms for PTSD here.
The Signs of Returning PTSD
Spotting the signs of returning PTSD is an essential first step in preventing relapse. In order to maintain your progress, be aware of the following symptoms:
- Being easily startled
- Sleep problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of enjoyment in normally pleasurable activities
- Feelings of alienation
What to Do If Your PTSD Is Still Affecting You
Some patients require maintenance sessions of TMS to help them remain stable and symptom-free. PTSD is stressful and can sometimes feel difficult to navigate. Don’t give up hope! Maintenance treatments are always available to you. Combined with the positive lifestyle changes above, you can protect your mental health in the long-term.