Fireworks are used to celebrate various dates in the calendar, such as New Year and the impending Bonfire Night on 5 November. But for veterans and those living with PTSD, this time of year can be distressing and even trigger flashbacks, or other symptoms of the condition.
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The loud noises, smoke and flashing lights of fireworks can be difficult for veterans. Being able to plan ahead helps veterans to cope with displays so if you’re planning to set off fireworks please do notify your neighbours in advance. #BonfireNight #Fireworks #MentalHealth #mentalhealthawareness #veterans
For many, fireworks are a symbol of celebration, but for veterans, they can cause stress and lead to flashbacks of their time in combat.
As conversations around the safety of fireworks continue, support grows for those wishing to reduce access to fireworks, or those calling for a complete ban.
This year, Sainsbury’s are not selling fireworks in any of their 2,300 shops across the UK. The move has pleased many, but particularly those in the Armed Forces family.
Despite this, it’s a good idea to be prepared ahead of Bonfire Night, to ensure you have a calm and stress-free evening.
#BonfireNight Tip 1:
Think about how to cope & plan ahead.
There can be sudden noises & bright flashes around Bonfire Night. Being prepared for this can help you to cope. Plan ahead for the day and the weekend before.
Find our 5 bonfire night tips here: https://t.co/9rUei0YuDd pic.twitter.com/kd7WYeZrGR
— Combat Stress (@CombatStress) October 30, 2019
Though it can seem like the celebrations of others are out of your control, there are things you can do to try and make Bonfire Night a little easier for yourself.
Firstly, by looking up the times of local events and firework displays, this can help you take control, and plan your own movements on the night.
If you think your neighbours are going to be putting on their own displays, one of the best things you can do is be honest and approach them about your situation. Your neighbours will likely be sympathetic to your PTSD and will work to accommodate your needs.
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#BonfireNight Tip 2. Identify your triggers & plan. The strong smells and sounds around Bonfire Night can trigger memories. It can be helpful to have competing sensory aid to hand such as essential oils or soothing music. #Fireworks #BonfireNight #MentalHealth #MentalHealthMatters
Ask them when they’re planning on letting off their fireworks, so you can plan your schedule. If you don’t have the time, or don’t feel confident speaking to your neighbours, there are signs you can print off and display in your garden, to ask residents to be mindful of your situation.
You can also use the night as an opportunity to catch up with friends and family, who can support you throughout the evening.
#BonfireNight Tip 3. Breathe
If #fireworks are causing anxiety, use your breath to calm your body. Breathe at a pace that feels comfortable & ensure that your out-breaths are long and slow to help calm you down and reduce your anxiety.
Find our tips here: https://t.co/9rUei0YuDd pic.twitter.com/yuytWInRdw
— Combat Stress (@CombatStress) November 1, 2019
Understanding what your triggers are can help you: whether it’s the sounds of fireworks, or the smell of a bonfire that triggers difficult memories. Once you understand this, you can work to combat it, for example playing music loudly, watching a film or TV show through headphones, or having essential oils to hand.
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