Stages of Flashbacks

Understanding the process you go through prior, during, and after the flashback can help you control the intensity and duration of the flashback. To heal, you need the information, not to experience the orignal trauma. as you were forced to.

Stages of Flashbacks

1. Beginning – An explainable feeling of dread, The feeling that something bad is going to happen. This is the generalized feeling of fear that you experienced.

2. Remembering/ Re-Enactment – in no way should you or anyone else minimize the experience of a flashback. It is horrendous and you deserve to take whatever actions towards safety and comfort that you can.

3. Coming Back – there is often a sense of exhaustion.thsi is the time when you can be the most creative. If you have the energy try drawing, painting, writing, working with clay etc. Another thing that people find helpful is to take to someone.

Try to identify each step as you go through it. Try to add comfort and safety to each stage.

Surviving a Flashback

1. GET GROUNDED – this means try to remain as present as possible

2. OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AROUND – remind yourself that you are in the present and not in the past. Look at the objects in the room.

3. TOUCH YOURSELF OR AN OBJECT – stroke your armm touch and feel a special object, eg. a teddy bear, a stone, seashells etc.

4. CHANGE YOUR BODY POSITION – most suvivors tend to go into the position they went into as a child. Do something different. For example, sit up and consciously feel the ground and the chair under you.

5. BREATHE – a natural reaction to fear is to stop breathing or to breathe only from the top of your lungs (short and shallow). Try to breathe deep and fully. This will calm your body. You may want to practice breathing when you are not in a crisis so that it is easier for you when you are in crisis.

6. REPEAT AFFIRMATIONS TO YOURSELF – pick two or three things that you can say to help you feel safer, ie. I’m okay. this is only information. this happened in the past, I am safe now.   You may want to write these affirmations down on your wall, on your bed sheets etc.

co- produced by Donna Bailey and Cathy Shawongonabe – Family Mental Heslth Case Manager – Enaahtig Healing Lodge


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