By Hana Frenette
The Fourth of July is one of the biggest days of the year for fireworks displays, both in neighborhoods and at larger-scale community events. While fireworks displays are a symbol of celebration for many people, they can be incredibly triggering and stressful for those with PTSD.
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, traumatic, or dangerous event. For many people living with PTSD, sudden loud noises, booms and bright flashes from fireworks can be triggering, anxiety-inducing and upsetting.
If avoiding an area where fireworks are present is not an option, here are a few tips to help ease the stress of fireworks season:
Invest in Earplugs or Noise-Canceling Headphones
A high-quality pair of earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can help drastically reduce or even eliminate the noise from fireworks, depending on how close you are to the source.
Consider Reaching out to Neighbors
Depending on your comfort level with your neighbors, consider talking with them about setting off fireworks within a certain proximity of your home or street. They may choose to set off fireworks at a different location, or a time when you won’t be home. If they don’t choose to alter their plans, they might be able to let you know when they plan to celebrate and you can be prepared for the noise, or make plans to be out of the house.
Meditation Apps and Videos
Downloading an app or video series to help you cope with PTSD can be an incredibly beneficial mental health tool both in times of stress and as a regular form of self-care. Apps such as CPT Coach, Life Armor and Mindfulness Coach are all free and available for Apple and Android devices.
Schedule a Trip to a Less Populated Area
If you live in a highly-populated area or are close to a scheduled community-wide fireworks show, consider visiting a relative or friend who lives in a quieter area during the scheduled show time.
Call a Friend or Family Member for Support
If traveling to another location isn’t an option, reach out to a friend, relative or free PTSD hotline. Talking through your feelings and anxiety can help alleviate some pent-up feelings of stress and provide a comforting support network. The National Hopeline Network, 1-800-442-HOPE (4673) is free and available 365 days a year. Volunteers who staff this toll-free hotline are specially trained in crisis intervention to provide support, information and referrals to people in need.