Reading a recent meme about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) , I laughed. Nothing about PTSD is funny. However, the meme listed several symptoms of PTSD and I related to over half of them! Hence, the chuckle. Prior to serving as a workplace chaplain, I considered PTSD to be something limited to soldiers of war and a non-issue for non-warriors. Turns out, I’m wrong (Cue: Loud crashing cymbals and dramatic theme music)
After experiencing Snowmageddon and serving over 1000 hardcore street people at the Dallas Convention Center, I gained a new appreciation for the effects of stress on human beings. Living on the streets certainly takes its toll on folks. But, I think choosing the street life is a byproduct of the trauma they experienced earlier in their life.
Did you know?
More than 25% of former foster children become homeless within two to four years of leaving the system.Statistics on Homeless Youth in America | Covenant House
What about me? Do I have PTSD? Truthfully, I don’t really know. I’ve certainly experienced trauma in my years living on God’s green earth. I’ve also caused trauma. However, I’ve never been tested or diagnosed with PTSD. Post traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that develops after experiencing a traumatic event such as a sexual or physical assault, death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster. For instance, the woman who recently discovered a dead child laying in the street during her morning walk may likely suffer from traumatic stress after what she witnessed.
Symptoms of PTSD
Symptoms of PTSD are typically grouped into different categories including:
- Reliving – Flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares of the incident
- Avoiding – Avoiding people, places, things, or memories that remind the trauma
- Excessive arousal – Increased alertness, anger, fits of rage, irritability, or hatred, difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Negative thoughts or feelings such as guilt
- Flat affect
Source: Focus Medica
I found the rain Sunday morning relaxing as I sat on our back patio sipping coffee. The wrought iron chair I sit in dates back to the 1970s and once occupied a similar space at my parent’s place. Something about their patio furniture reminds me of home in a comforting way. Maintaining a space in your home that affords you a sense of peace and tranquility helps when you are trying to cope with stress. For me, sitting outside, sipping coffee, listening to nature, watching the birds and the ferals play in various places of our backyard, and simply enjoying God’s creation helped me disconnect from my troubles for a little while.
You might also enjoy reading My Monday Morning Cup | 10 Key Strategies for Coping with Secondary Trauma
Whether it is sudden or ongoing, stress ignites your nervous system, flooding your bloodstream with adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones raise your blood pressure, increase your heart rate and spike your blood sugar levels. The effects of chronic stress on our lives is not healthy and according to the experts at Sutter Health includes symptoms like :
- Prolonged periods of poor sleep
- Regular, severe headaches
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Feelings of isolation, withdrawal or worthlessness
- Constant anger and irritability
- Loss of interest in activities
- Constant worrying or obsessive thinking
- Excessive alcohol or drug use
- Inability to concentrate
5 Keys to Successfully Coping with Stress
- Ensure you are getting enough sleep.
- Spend time bonding with your pet.
- Go on a vacation or weekend getaway.
- Carve out time for a hobby.
- Invest time in physical exercise.
These are just a few things you can do to help you successfully cope with excess stress. Life is really short. Don’t make it shorter by staying stressed out all the time. Find ways and set aside time to relax, recover, and recoup. For me, it comes down to spending time in God’s word, talking with the Lord in prayer, and enjoying my morning coffee sitting out on our patio.
May the Lord shower you with His blessings.
The Devotional Guy™
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