How Mindfulness Practices Improve Daily Life With PTSD

Posted on September 6, 2023 by Corner Canyon Publishing
How Mindfulness Practices Improve Daily Life With PTSD

When a person is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they often have a variety of symptoms that impact their lives. Daily life with PTSD is difficult, and many individuals with PTSD struggle to get through each day. Fortunately, there are many practices that can help to improve mental health, well-being, and the quality of everyday life. One of these practices is mindfulness. 

Treatment for PTSD at Corner Canyon Health Centers incorporates mindfulness practices that help individuals heal from PTSD. These practices also provide individuals with tools to improve their daily lives. Taking the first step to improving daily life with PTSD is difficult, but it is possible. 

Daily Life With PTSD

PTSD is a disorder that many individuals develop who have experienced trauma. Trauma is an event or experience that causes distress mentally, physically, and/or emotionally. While it is normal to feel anxiety and fear while in distressing situations and after, individuals with PTSD struggle to recover from a traumatic event(s). Individuals of all ages can experience PTSD, and about six of every 100 people experience PTSD at some point in their lives. 

Daily life with PTSD is severely impacted by re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance, reactivity, and cognition and mood changes. These four aspects of PTSD define the disorder, and those who are diagnosed have all of them for a month or more. In addition, a criterion for diagnosing PTSD is that symptoms are inhibiting a person from functioning in their daily life. 

Re-Experiencing Symptoms

There are a variety of experiences and events that can be traumatic. Common traumas include abuse, neglect, or accidents. However, the definition of trauma is it is an event that causes distress for an individual. For individuals with PTSD, this distress sticks with them. As a result, it can cause re-experiencing symptoms. 

Re-experiencing symptoms are those that are based on remembering the trauma. They include having flashbacks of trauma, which can occur due to a situation, person, or place that creates a memory. However, flashbacks can also occur with no known trigger. Nightmares, dreams, and overall heightened stress are also considered re-experiencing symptoms as they cause the body to feel like it is experiencing the trauma again. 

The severity of re-experiencing symptoms varies for each person. Some individuals will experience severe flashbacks, while others are less so. However, for a PTSD diagnosis, a person will have at least one re-experiencing symptom. 


After a trauma, it is normal for a person to take time away from places, people, or things associated with their traumatic experience. It is a normal response that is helpful in staying safe and minimizing distress in the future. This might look like someone avoiding a person who was hurtful, a place where they were bullied, or an activity that brings back traumatic memories. 

However, over time, a high level of avoidance normally fades. Individuals can learn from trauma, but when a person changes their routine to avoid triggers in a manner that disrupts their daily life, this level of avoidance becomes a problem. Daily life with PTSD includes one or more avoidance symptoms. Commonly, avoidance limits a person’s options and can cause social isolation due to changes in routine. 

Reactivity and Arousal

When a person experiences a traumatic event, it is normal to feel anxious and scared. This reaction is healthy and helpful. Ideally, the high level of reactivity and arousal fades with time. Individuals calm down, and they are able to relax and heal. However, daily life with PTSD includes at least two reactivity and arousal symptoms related to their trauma.

Reactivity and arousal symptoms occur when the nervous system is on high alert and unable to relax. Being easily started, on edge, or tense are all signs of a high level of reactivity and arousal. In addition, difficulties with focusing and sleeping are also signals that a person is struggling to switch gears out of high reactivity. High levels of irritation, agitation, or angry outbursts are also common with PTSD, alongside high-risk, destructive, or reckless behaviors. 

When a person is struggling with reactivity and arousal symptoms, their daily life is greatly impacted. Going about normal life tasks like going to the grocery store or having a discussion about where to eat dinner can be stressful. In addition, when individuals are struggling with a high level of reactivity, both their personal and professional lives suffer greatly. 

Cognition and Mood

Both cognition and mood are very important in daily life. When a person is struggling with both, or either, they are more likely to have difficulties at work, at home, and in relationships. Unfortunately, daily life with PTSD includes challenges with cognition and mood. A PTSD diagnosis means that a person has at least two symptoms related to their cognition and mood. 

These symptoms include challenges with memory that might involve not remembering the traumatic event. Having negative thoughts and feelings about themselves and the world, with difficulty feeling positive, is also a cognition and mood symptom. Exaggerated feelings of blame, shame, anger, or other negative emotions commonly occur in individuals with PTSD. As a result of many aspects of PTSD, many individuals feel socially isolated and struggle to enjoy their daily lives, both of which are cognition and mood symptoms of PTSD. 

What Is Mindfulness?

The term mindfulness is used in a variety of contexts and can cause some confusion on what specifically mindfulness is. Most simply, mindfulness is a state of being aware of oneself. It can include being aware of feelings, thoughts, or actions. However, it can also incorporate being aware of the surroundings and the impact of them.

When a person is mindful, they are not judging the thing they are mindful of. For example, being mindful of emotions may result in recognizing feelings of frustration, along with denial and irritation about the initial frustration. This differs from judgment as in mindfulness, there is not a statement of the value of the thing a person is noticing. Emotions, thoughts, or actions are not bad but instead seen simply for what they are. 

In practice, mindfulness plays an important role in healing from many health challenges. Mindfulness in mental health includes helping a person learn to recognize how they feel, what they are thinking, and what actions they are taking. This step helps them to see themselves more clearly and be engaged in the current moment of their life. 

Benefits of Mindfulness on Mental Health

Mental health is an important factor to consider when looking at well-being in daily life. Mindfulness is a tool that can be used to help improve overall mental health in several ways. It is a method to manage stress, improve focus, and strengthen social relationships. As a result, mindfulness has an overall benefit on mental health regardless of the specific mental health challenges. 

When a person is mindful, they notice how they are feeling, what they are thinking, and the actions they and others are taking. As a result, they are living in the current moment of their life. This helps to decrease stress in the body and mind, and mindfulness is a technique that a person uses throughout their day can help to manage their stress reaction. In addition, mindfulness is a practice that relies on a person’s focus. Therefore, it helps individuals to practice focus, constantly bringing themselves back to what they are trying to be aware of.

Both stress reduction and improved focus help to improve a person’s relationships. However, the ability to be mindful of self and of others is a tool that greatly improves all social relationships. This is because it gives a person a clear picture of what is currently occurring. Which, in turn, allows an individual to accept responsibility, make changes, and communicate needs. 

Improving Daily Life With PTSD Using Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a tool that is very effective in improving daily life with PTSD. It gives individuals a way to manage their reactions, build healthier coping skills, and improve healthy habits like sleep. As a result, individuals who are more mindful have a higher quality of life and mental health. 

Managing Trigger Reactions

Triggers are events, people, places, or things that remind a person of their initial trauma. There are a variety of triggers, and they are unique to each person and the trauma they have experienced. An example of a trigger is a car backfiring when a person has experienced wartime trauma. The backfiring car can trigger this person back into their combat experience and bring the memory of trauma to the surface, as well as the distress they felt. 

Managing trigger reactions is an important part of managing PTSD. Treatments like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) help individuals to reprocess their trauma. This often decreases the reaction to certain triggers. However, many people struggling with PTSD will need to be able to manage their triggers in order to function well. 

Mindfulness is a tool that can help. When a person is mindful, it gives them the knowledge to see what their triggers are. While this does not fix the problem, it does help a person to know where they stand and give them options to cope. Coping may include working through the trigger with a counselor, using mindfulness to keep calm, or making life changes that help to minimize triggers that are more challenging to cope with in a healthy way. Regardless of the choice a person makes, mindfulness is a foundation skill that helps a person manage their trigger reactions. 

Building Healthy Coping Skills

Coping with PTSD symptoms is not easy, and many individuals reach for unhealthy coping options that derail their lives even more. Substance abuse is a common unhealthy coping mechanism that can lead to addiction and worsening PTSD symptoms. Fortunately, there are many health coping skills that can help improve daily life with PTSD. 

Mindfulness is one of these healthy coping skills as it helps a person to feel more calm, decrease tension, and resolve anxiety and panic. However, mindfulness is also a foundation that helps a person to build healthier coping skills. When a person is mindful of their reactions, feelings, and thoughts, they are able to experiment with different coping mechanisms. For example, when feeling stressed, a person could try walking and being mindful of how it impacts their symptoms. 

Improving Sleep Helps Daily Life With PTSD

Having difficulty sleeping is a very common symptom of PTSD. Disrupted sleep might be a result of nightmares, being highly alert, or changes in mood and energy. However, improving sleep is not an easy task. A person cannot make themselves fall asleep. Instead, sleep comes to a person when they allow the body, mind, and spirit to soften and relax. 

Mindfulness is a skill that helps sleep in multiple ways. First, it is a method that can help the body to relax and reduce overall stress. In addition, mindfulness gives a person information on what changes have had a positive impact on their sleep. For example, when a person tries setting a bedtime, they will need to be aware of their sleep and how the changes made them feel. 

Building Mindfulness in Daily Life With PTSD

Mindfulness has many benefits in improving daily life with PTSD. However, knowing how to integrate mindfulness into daily life can be a challenge. Through substance abuse and trauma treatment, individuals can go through mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP). In addition, mindfulness can be slowly added to a person’s life through many healthy routines such as exercise, meditation, and relaxation. 

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP)

A holistic and helpful way to build mindfulness is through MBRP. MBRP is an eight-session group experience where individuals learn mindfulness practices while learning how to make adjustments to their behavior. The overarching goal of MBRP is to help people have a clear understanding of their triggers with awareness and to decrease the immediacy of their reactions to these triggers.

For substance abuse, MBRP is very helpful in preventing relapse. With heightened awareness, individuals can leave treatment with the skills to know what to expect from different situations and have alternative options to care for their needs. However, the core lessons learned in MBRP also help with trauma and PTSD. The principles of increased awareness and triggered responses are very similar for individuals with PTSD. MBRP, therefore, can help a person to build the skills and awareness level that improves their overall quality of life. 

Making Healthy Routines

Healthy routines are incredibly challenging to build. However, the first step to building a healthy routine is to know what is healthy and helpful. Mindfulness is a skill that provides the information necessary to do just this. When people are mindful, they know how to redirect themselves to make healthier routines that benefit their quality of life, mental health, and happiness. 

However, healthy routines can also include mindfulness in them. When a person builds new routines after treatment, it can serve as an anchor for their mood and cognition and decrease reactivity and agitation. With regular activities that serve as a way to be mindful, individuals are more likely to stay in touch with themselves. The activity that encourages mindfulness can vary. However, many individuals utilize meditation, exercise, or journalling as a method to stay in touch with themselves. 

Improving Daily Life With PTSD at Corner Canyon

Corner Canyon Health Centers offers treatment for individuals struggling with PTSD and co-occurring substance abuse issues. The goal of this treatment is to help individuals to improve their daily life, mental health, and happiness. 

With a combination of traditional therapies and holistic therapies, like mindfulness-based practices, clients are treated with a unique treatment plan that addresses their needs. PTSD treatments address the mind, body, and spirit of clients and provide them with the tools they need to be successful when they go home. 

For individuals struggling with PTSD, it is common to experience a variety of mental health issues and struggle to get through each day. Experiencing these challenges day in and day out can drag on a person’s well-being. However, mindfulness is a practice that can help. At Corner Canyon Health Centers, we understand that living with PTSD has many difficulties and offer treatment that can help you heal and move forward after trauma. If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD or substance abuse issues related to PTSD, we can help. Call us today at (877) 717-6237 to learn more about our treatment options and how we integrate mindfulness into them.