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Tips on coping with fireworks

Support for veterans during fireworks

Tips from our clinical team

We understand fireworks can be difficult, so our specialist clinical team gives the following advice to help you prepare before and during firework season.

Our Principal Clinical Psychologist and Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist Lee Robinson said, “If, and only if, you are confident and able to, in the period leading up to fireworks night you can begin gradually exposing yourself to fireworks in a way that is in your control. You can watch videos or audio clips of fireworks with the sounds turned down, each day gradually turning the volume up as you feel able, while practicing the techniques below.

“This gradual and repeated exposure can help the brain to recognise the sights and sounds as safe, loosening the connection with experiences of the past.”

Tips during fireworks

1. Reduce triggers

You can reduce the impact of some triggers by using ear defenders or noise cancelling headphones, which can help reduce the shock of loud explosions. While temporarily installing blackout blinds can help block out flashes of light.

2. Connect with loved ones

It’s good to connect with loved ones. Asking family and friends to be with you during key dates for fireworks, such as Bonfire Night, can help to keep you entertained and reassured.

3. Stay in the here and now

Remind yourself you are safe, where you are and what is actually happening:

• I am at home. I’m not in a military compound.

• I am wearing jeans and a t-shirt, not military fatigues, webbing or body armour.

• I have my mobile and can call my friends and family and hear their voice, not waiting for my allocated call time.

• If I look out of the window, I can see the skyline of my home and the fireworks in the sky, NOT explosions or burning vehicles.

4. Use scents

Use scented candles, diffusers or plug ins to make your home smell good and nothing like those you remember from deployments.

5. Get moving

Get your body moving! Stretch, squat, lunge, do push-ups, star jumps, or yoga. The choice is yours, but getting moving can provide a distraction and help reduce anxiety.

6. Breathe!

Long and slow breaths lower your heart rate and can help calm you.

7. Use grounding objects

Have a grounding object in your pocket – something that makes you feel home, safe and cared for.

8. Remember this will pass and you're not alone

Our Helpline is available to all veterans living with military-related mental health difficulties, offering emotional support and guidance on 0800 138 1619. They can also assist you with beginning a referral for our treatment programmes. Please don’t struggle in silence.

You can call our free and confidential 24-hour Helpline for mental health advice and support.  Call us on 0800 138 1619, text us on 07537 173 683 or email us.