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Matthew’s Place

Coping with Trauma During the Holidays

by Madison Rose

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is defined as a condition that includes flashbacks and memories of a traumatic event, avoidant behaviors, anxiety, and depression. The holidays can be filled with triggers for those who suffer from PTSD. Whether you are spending more time with family* or social distancing in your own home, the holidays can provide its own set of challenges. Your triggers do not define you and there are ways to cope with them when you experience them. Below is a list of ways you can have a safe and healthy holiday season.

Join a group therapy session or sign up for one on one therapy sessions

Group therapy can be helpful to show you that you are not alone. Many people can share their different experiences and coping skills that may be able to help you through this stressful time. One on one therapy is another option that can assist you in sorting through and coping with uncomfortable feelings and memories. There can be community programs in your area which may provide these services at little to no cost.

Find some “Me Time”

If you are spending a lot of time with your family, find a moment that you can spend doing an activity that will improve your mental health. Go for a walk, meditate, work on a craft or hobby, make sure you find some time, especially if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Exercise is another way to find that “me time.” Exercise has also proven to help with the symptoms of PTSD. You can go for a jog, watch a tutorial on YouTube for yoga, ride your bike, there are many ways to relieve that stress.

Reach out to others

It isn’t unusual for someone who is suffering from PTSD to cut themselves off from their support system and isolate. Isolation, however, can worsen PTSD symptoms. Reach out to trusted friends or family members who may be able to help you through any depression or anxiety.

Set boundaries with others — and yourself

When spending time around family during the holidays, it is important to address any boundaries that you may have. Setting up boundaries can help you cope with trauma and sort through feelings in your own way. If it is safe to do so, talk to a trusted family member about what your boundaries are and what they look like. For example, If you need extra “me time,” communicating with a family member that you are living or staying with, can help open up dialogue and communication so that you can get what you need without any conflict.

You can also set up boundaries with yourself as well. You can give yourself permission to not engage in a discussion that could be harmful to your well-being, set up boundaries with yourself with stress eating and drinking, and also not allow yourself to feel pressured to buy a lot of gifts. Do what you can with what you have, and the sentiment will shine through.

Overall, remember to be gentle with yourself. At the end of the year, we may need to be even kinder to ourselves as we process all that we have been through. Just remember that you are worth feeling better.

*The CDC recommends only celebrating with those in your own household.*

About the Author:

Madison Rose graduated with honors from the University of Colorado with a degree in psychology specializing in forensic psychology. She was a lead organizer of Denver’s March for Our Lives as well as the founder and Vice President of Never Again — Colorado. Madison also founded and served as the director of Public Relations for Vote for Our Lives, in addition to establishing Students Demand Action in the state of Colorado. Madison has been a guest lecturer on anti-violence activism at the University of Colorado and Regis University. You can follow her on Instagram @starringmadisonrose.

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