How Mindfulness Can Relieve PTSD


Millions of people worldwide use mindfulness to keep in touch with the present and distance themselves from distressing thoughts and memories. Mindful practices can help those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) manage their symptoms, reduce stress, and develop key skills.

What Is Mindfulness?

At its core, mindfulness is when you notice what is happening in the present moment. Although it sounds easy, mindfulness can be quite difficult for some people, as many distractions of modern life can crop up, and distressing thoughts can resurface.

Mindfulness can help people with:

  • Self-awareness – mindfulness encourages people to focus their attention on one thing at a time. This could be the smells, sounds, and sensations around them or their internal thoughts and feelings. Focusing on one thing at a time can help boost self-awareness in day-to-day life.
  • Non-judgemental observation – observing thoughts and emotions without judging them can boost self-compassion and reduce negative self-judgement.
  • Coping with negative thoughts – we can often become trapped in negative thoughts about the past or worries about the future. However, mindfulness encourages people to focus on the present moment and break the cycle of negative thoughts. In doing so, they can become active participants in life rather than being stuck on autopilot.

These benefits can help those struggling with trauma and PTSD cope with difficult memories and emotions.

PTSD and Mindfulness

PTSD is a mental health condition that sometimes develops after a traumatic incident. It can stem from events such as natural disasters and war to being the victim of a violent crime or repeated abuse.

The main symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Avoiding places, people, or situations that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Feeling numb or having trouble feeling any positive emotions
  • Startling easily and finding it difficult to relax (hyperarousal)
  • Reliving the event, whether through flashbacks or nightmares

Many people with PTSD also experience dissociation, a sense of disconnection from reality and their bodies. Those who experience these symptoms may also struggle with traditional PTSD treatment.[1]

PTSD is often treated by a combination of treatments, such as:

  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy – this style of therapy uses eye movements to help people reprocess traumatic events. EMDR therapy does not require much talking, making it a beneficial treatment for those who struggle to open up about their trauma.
  • Medication – there is no set medication for those with PTSD, but medication can be prescribed to treat symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Antipsychotic medicines may also be offered to help treat symptoms of psychosis and hyperarousal.
  • Art therapy – art therapy provides an alternative outlet for those with PTSD to process their feelings. This can help people feel safer in their bodies and helps to create separation from the traumatic event.

Mindfulness has recently been noted as a treatment approach for PTSD. Already proven to reduce stress for other conditions such as anxiety and depression, it is being increasingly studied in the treatment of PTSD. One study found that including present-focused mindfulness in trauma treatment had much lower dropout rates compared to those without it.[2]

Many people who live with PTSD are disconnected from their bodies and feel physically unsafe due to their experience of trauma. Mindfulness can help them reconnect with themselves in a healthy way, enabling them to become more aware of their physical sensations and inner thoughts.

Mindfulness Exercises

Becoming more mindful and incorporating mindfulness into daily life may be challenging at first. Some people may feel uncomfortable sitting with their thoughts for a set amount of time with no distractions, whereas others find it peaceful. There are several mindfulness practices to help cope with PTSD or trauma that you can try at home.

A body scan is a popular mindfulness exercise that can help people with PTSD reconnect with their bodies. To start this exercise, lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Slowly move your consciousness and attention through different parts of your body – you can start from the tips of your toes or the top of your head. As you perform a body scan, make sure to focus on any sensations you can feel. Is there any warmth, tingling, or tension? Try relaxing different parts of your body as you go.

Another mindfulness exercise that you can try is mindful eating. With your next meal or drink, focus on the taste, texture, and sensations of your food. Watch the steam that it gives off or feel how it is hot or cold to the touch.

Mindful meditation is another popular practice that many people utilise. This form of meditation involves sitting quietly and focusing on the sensations in your body. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the present and focus on your breathing, how your breath feels, and any sensations in your body.

Mindfulness can feel alien at first, but practising every day, even for just a few minutes, can have significant benefits. It can feel discouraging when your mind wanders during a mindfulness exercise, but this is entirely normal – simply bring your mind back to the task or exercise at hand. The more you practice, the easier it will become.

It is important to remember that mindfulness alone is not a treatment for PTSD. Do not hesitate to reach out for professional help if you are struggling with your mental health. Traditional treatment for PTSD and mindfulness can reinforce each other strongly and encourage more positive outcomes of treatment.


Mindfulness can help those struggling with PTSD combat symptoms of dissociation and hyperarousal by reconnecting them with their body. By boosting self-awareness and reducing the number of negative thoughts, mindfulness can be a great tool to reduce some of the symptoms of PTSD. Mindfulness can be present anywhere in day-to-day life, such as eating or even folding laundry. Although it may seem strange at first, it can create a major positive change in people’s lives.

If you have a client or know of someone struggling with PTSD, reach out to us at Khiron Clinics. We believe that we can improve therapeutic outcomes and avoid misdiagnosis by providing an effective residential programme and outpatient therapies addressing underlying psychological trauma. Allow us to help you find the path to realistic, long-lasting recovery. For more information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).


[1] Boyd, J., Lanius, R. and McKinnon, M., 2018. Mindfulness-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review of the treatment literature and neurobiological evidence. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, 43(1), pp.7-25.

[2] Frost KD, Laska KM, Wampold BE. The evidence for present-centered therapy as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder. J Trauma Stress. 2014;27:1–8.