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How Can I Plan Ahead for a Trauma Anniversary?

If you’re preparing for a trauma anniversary, you may want to consider planning your actions ahead of time. Let’s discuss why trauma anniversaries impact you so much and how you can make them easier in the long run.

The Effects of a Trauma Anniversary

Trauma anniversaries can cause you significant emotional distress. The event can trigger a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) episode. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs National Center for PTSD, “…[A]nniversary reactions may involve anxiety symptoms such as panic, specific fears, or worry. Individuals may have panic attacks, be afraid to go certain places, or find that they worry about their safety and the safety of their loved ones. Others may experience physical (or medical) symptoms such as fatigue and pain or general health complaints such as headaches and stomachaches.”

The effects can make functioning and performing basic self-care difficult. Planning ahead can make the effects more manageable for you. As the date gets closer, you can go over your plan multiple times to feel confident in your execution.

Planning Your Coping Mechanisms

In dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)—a specialized form of cognitive-behavioral therapy—therapists teach clients to cope with upcoming stressors. You identify the triggers for intense emotions and the skills you can use to cope with the situation, and you mentally imagine yourself using them. When you’re getting ready for a trauma anniversary, you can decide beforehand what coping mechanisms will help you.

Will distraction and escapism decrease the severity of your symptoms? You can pick out specific movies to watch or books to read. Do you prefer talking about it? You can schedule a therapy appointment or plan to meet up with a supportive friend. Does exercise offer you stress relief? You can set up the day with one to two gaps of time for working out and moving your body. Can music help you process your emotions? Create playlists for each feeling that you could work through on the trauma anniversary.

Preparing Your Resources

It’s especially important that you have your as-needed psychiatric medications filled and ready before your trauma anniversary. You don’t want to have an anxiety attack without any way to relieve the symptoms. Additionally, you should surround yourself with comforting objects. If coloring books or stuffed animals help you feel better, it’s best to take advantage of them on your trauma anniversary. For people who use fidgets, look at your schedule and ensure you’ll have some available any place you go. Utilizing your resources will likely help you cope when you get spikes of distress.

When you experience a traumatic event, the anniversary can cause increased PTSD symptoms. You may feel panicked, overwhelmed, and emotionally charged. To prepare yourself, plan ahead. You can decide on coping mechanisms which help relieve your distress. Additionally, you can surround yourself with comforting objects. If you’re new to your healing journey or need extra support on your trauma anniversary, the mental health professionals at The Guest House can assist you. We offer group and individual counseling services. With regular outpatient appointments, you can begin to feel more confident in your stability. Call (855) 483-7800 for help.