It is always a good idea to perform physical cleanses now and again to rid the body of toxins and other forms of waste. However, did you know that it is equally important to perform mental cleanses as well? Mental cleanses provide a clearer mind and a stronger sense of self, which for people who suffer from large amounts of stress, can prove especially beneficial.

Combat veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, are in definite need or mental cleanses. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively. Since the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs finds that one in five combat veterans develops PTSD either during or after their military service, afflicted veterans should certainly look into beginning frequent mental cleanses.

But how does one perform a mental cleanse? An article in Psychology Today written by Karolyn Gazella called “The Healing Factor” describes five main steps to how she performs mental cleanses.

The first step is called capitulation, in reference to Gazella’s attendance at a Deepak Chopra seminar she previously attended. In short, capitulation involves reflecting on all of the day’s activities right before bed, so that a person might be “better able to let go of anything negative that may have happened and pause to celebrate the good things”. By thinking about every interaction, every conflict, and every triumph, an individual is forced to deal with these thoughts head-on rather than suppress them in their subconscious where they could potentially morph into more deep-seated issues. Plus, focusing on the day’s triumphs helps boosts a person’s mood and gets them more excited about the following day.

The second step is remediation, or “to make right, correct, or remedy a situation or relationship”. Remediation allows a person to take better care of his or herself and the people around them, which is an important tool for veterans suffering from PTSD. Affected veterans tend to feel alienated form their loved ones and may therefore develop hostile or even violent behaviors. Remediation is important so that a veteran can correct these behaviorisms before they spin out of control and drive any support system away.

The third step is to exuberate, or “to express great joy”. Again, PTSD can provide a hefty load of depression, which means that this step forces a veteran to focus on the positives. Whether it be recognizing and giving thanks for a great support system to simply being grateful for the other aspects of their health, veterans affected by PTSD can certainly manage to find at least a few positives despite their new lifestyles.

The fourth step is to affirm. “Affirmations are statements that can make an imprint on the subconscious mind to create a healthy [and] positive self-image”. Phrases like “I can,” and even “yes,” when used over time, can greatly impact a person’s mindset and outlook on their future.

The final step is meditation. Meditation involves intensive focus and relaxation, which therefore completely (yet temporarily) eliminates the presence of PTSD. Meditation demands that a person remain in the present moment and to focus on something simple, such as the breath. Becoming in-tune with one’s breathing also allows for further introspection to take place, which is why people who meditate say that they feel more in-touch with their bodies and their inner selves. But if nothing else, at least meditation gives stressed veterans an excuse to finally have peace.

All of these steps should be practiced as often as possible, but know that a mental cleanse by itself is not an absolute treatment for PTSD. In fact, since PTSD has no cure, other elements such as talk therapy and perhaps psychiatric medication may be needed in order to cope with symptoms, depending on the type and their severity.

However, veterans should be wary of seeking this sort of treatment through the VA, since reports released by CNN in 2012 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. Therefore, ailing soldiers and veterans who suffer from PTSD might want to consider consulting outside organizations to rehabilitate their physical and mental health.

One of those organizations is Operation: I.V, a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life!

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.