Dealing with PTSD: The Importance of Rest
When I deal with posttraumatic stress disorder, I understand the importance of rest. When I was running long distance and training to run marathons, I never ran every day. My typical training week was four days of running, and three days of rest spaced through the week. I have discovered that the same logic serves me well when it comes to dealing with the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and needing rest.
A typical therapy session can leave me worn out like a long training run (PTSD and Fatigue: Is It Normal To Feel So Tired?). It just doesn’t make sense for me to push my issues the very next day. I have to absorb what happened during the session. The same is true if I have released feelings having to do with my abuse. In my PTSD recovery program, it takes time for that to process, in a number of ways.
Dealing With PTSD Is Draining
- I am physically tired. It took a long time for me to catch on to this aspect of the
healing process. It’s just really tiring. My body will feel the effects of healing work I have done, and I have to rest just like after a long run. Abuse memories are stored in the body at the cellular level, and when they release, it frees toxins, which need to pass through my system.
- I am mentally drained. If I have addressed a difficult issue, my mind has taken a jolt. I have typically learned something new about myself and how I functioned in my world after the abuse. For instance, in my abuse, I got the message it was dangerous to be successful. Now I better understand why I avoided success. It takes mental energy to absorb that new awareness.
- The healing process continues. I may not be aware of it on a conscious level, but the PTSD healing process, once prompted, will continue within my body (Using Your Brain and Body in PTSD Healing). If I have a therapy session on Friday, the feelings might not hit until Monday. I have learned to prepare for insights that surface much later.
- My energy reserves are low. I can be more easily triggered when I’m in a healing cycle. I can’t process life events as quickly or as effectively. When I’m going through a lot of PTSD healing, my senses are more heightened and on edge.
Rest Is Important When Dealing with PTSD
What I have learned is to put extra downtime into my world. Just like recharging my physical and emotional batteries after a long run, my body needs the time to let the healing process work (Taking A Break From PTSD Recovery).
- Get plenty of extra rest. If I can sleep longer than I normally would, I do so.
- Take healing steps. I take hot baths, or get a massage to release toxins and allow muscles that are tight and sore to release.
- Drink plenty of fluids. It’s amazing how draining PTSD work can be, and it just means my body loses fluids, which need replacement.
Yes, these healing steps sound a lot like what is recommended when I have a cold or the flu – but there’s a reason. My body has freed some old negative energy, and it helps to give myself room for that energy to be released.
Photo by Erik Blokhuis @Flickr. Creative Commons.
Dan is a PTSD survivor, and author of Healing The Writer: A Personal Account of Overcoming PTSD and Freedom’s Just Another Word. You can connect with Dan on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and at his website DanLHays.com.
Hays, D. (2015, September 7). Dealing with PTSD: The Importance of Rest, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, April 11 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2015/09/dealing-with-ptsd-the-importance-of-rest
Author: Dan Hays
Thank you so much for this. I've been healing for three years, and I am not in constant PTSD anymore. I feel more normal most of the time, so anyway when I am badly triggered and have a deep healing circle, and the exhaustion hits, it's more disconcerting. I've been lying in bed all day today and feeling guilty, but it occurred to me to look up trauma and rest, and what you wrote really helped me .
This article has been really informative. I am dealing with PTSD myself and I find it difficult to deal with anything after therapy. It is super draining! I didn't realize how draining it could be until my first session, and I would think to myself "okay, it's just myself making it up in my mind". After reading this article, it comforts me to know that others understand what I am going through and that I am not insane. I would like to connect with you, if possible!
Yup,sometimes I'd think I was just making up how tired I was, until I finally appreciated how tiring the whole experience could be.
I'd be glad to connect. I'm at email@example.com.
Also, let me suggest a forum that has been a real support - people who really understand what I deal with. It was started by Michele Rosenthal, who began this blog. Here's the website: https://healthunlocked.com/healmyptsd
I look forward to connecting with you.
I’d need to examine with you here. Which is not one thing I often do! I get pleasure from studying a submit that may make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to remark!
I'm glad you've commented, and it's great that you think I've posted something that will make people think.
Thank you so much for your article. I always feel so guilty because I'm exhausted all of the time. I'm too exhausted to do too many productive things in a day...week. I stay up late at night hoping the energy will hit me and it doesn't. I feel defeated when I realize that yet another day is over and I've produced nothing I wanted to. You've helped me to realize that it's ok to take my meds before midnight and get in a good night's rest. Rest will nourish me and while I rest I know that my mind may get a bit of a break as well.
Thank you again. I'm new to this site as of tonight and feel safer in the knowledge that I am not alone in this.
You're very welcome! I wrote this post from personal experience, and those are the ones people seem to connect with. I completely understand your exhaustion. Absolutely - get your rest and the next day, do what you can. I have the energy some days to be productive, and others, just moving very little seems all I can do - the hard part is I can never really predict which type of day it can be. Yes, let the rest nourish you, and give your mind a break at the same time.
No - you're definitely not alone in this. I'm glad you've found this site!
I was just sifting through pinterest and saw this. How timely! I have therapy and EMDR on Fridays and have often, like today, found that i have very little physical or emotional or mental energy all weekend. That usually makes me feel bad because i feel like I am wasting time when I should be getting things done. Yet I just feel depleted. This article helps me have mire compassion for myself. Thank you!
I'm glad you found this! It sounds like it sure does apply for you. Yup, depleted is a great word for it! I'm glad reading the article gives you more self compassion.
You're very welcome!
This article is so on point. I have to drive an hour out of town to meet my therapist monthly, and immediately have to rush back to work (after a draining, emotional n tiring session) and switch mode and be productive.its soo hectic.
Oh wow! That would be super draining for me. I hope you can adjust that schedule in some way. I'm glad the article resonated for you.
Thank you for this article. I thought what is wrong with me after I have had a therapy session or even something as a trying time at the DMV! I am exhausted after a long interaction with anyone. All this wears me out - now I know it is the toxins at a cellular level that are stored in my body. The abuse was horrible, I am always healing from it. I, too, have to respect my body and that it is okay to give in to the fatigue.
Your article was succinct and helpful more than words can express. I am going to read your other articles.
You're very welcome, Lynn! Yes, it can be baffling to feel so tired after a therapy session, until we get how important the rest component is. I'm glad the part about the toxins resonated for you - that is a big key for me as well. I'm glad the article was helpful, and I'm delighted that you will read my future articles as well. I think you will find them similar to this one - just the things I've learned on my healing journey.
I look forward to hearing from you again soon! :)
And thoughtfully written.
I'm glad you liked it, Carl! You're very welcome!