The 4th of July holiday is traditionally the official start of Summer fun and celebrations.
It is generally a fun time with picnics and social gatherings, often with public firework displays. The use of fireworks is an American tradition that many look forward to. However, for those who have experienced interpersonal violence, or been exposed to gun violence as a survivor of war, interpersonal violence or school gun violence, the loud noises associated with fireworks often trigger PTSD symptoms regardless of how long ago the exposure was.
For trauma survivors, July 4th celebrations are dreaded and avoided. The good news is there are ways to manage the potential PTSD triggering.
Prevention is the wisest approach to managing the reactions brought forth by the loud, unexpected noises of fireworks.
- Do your best to avoid public firework displays which are usually listed online.
- Talk with your neighbors about the private use of fireworks so you can plan.
- Use your air conditioning to muffle outdoors sounds
- Try noise cancelling head phones or earplugs
Even with the best attempts at prevention, you may find yourself triggered with PTSD symptoms.
This is when you reach for the coping skills that have helped you in the past. These likely include deep breathing, meditation or relaxation, and grounding exercises. Additional calming techniques include listening to binaural beats or bilateral music with headphones, move your body – brief vigorous exercise will begin to shift your prefrontal cortex offline and begin to quiet your mind, try jumping jacks, running, dancing, Any movement will be helpful.
Essential Oils can be very helpful to quickly calm your brain. Oils such as Basil, Lavender or Clary Sage are high in linolool, which is very calming to the brain. Take a few deep breaths or add to a diffuser and you’ll find your brain begins to respond within 23 seconds! Finally, reach out for support from a professional therapist, from friends or from family. You do not need to suffer alone.