How to get Through the Holidays While Coping with Trauma
The holidays – these two words can stir up so many emotions. From happy magical memories to feelings of sadness and loss. Now that it is November, the holidays are on a fast track towards us. The holiday season can invoke powerful memories of loved ones who have passed, relationships lost, social anxiety, and past traumas. What is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year can feel like anything but that. No one ever prepared us to cope with the holiday season when going through a difficult time in our lives, but that is about to change. This holiday season, it is time to focus on you. My goal in sharing these words with you today is to help you know that you are not alone this holiday season and that it is valid to feel the way that you do. I am here to share some steps to take this holiday season to help bring peace to your mind and body while coping with trauma.
Acknowledge How You Feel The first step in bringing peace to your mind and body is to acknowledge how you feel. Giving yourself space to feel your feelings and express your emotions is a powerful tool. When you recognize your feelings in a non-judgmental way, it allows you to start to feel peace. The keyword here is non-judgmental. This means you accept your feelings regardless of what they are, and you do not judge yourself or make yourself feel bad about them. Your feelings are always justified. Let me repeat that; your feelings are justified. Sitting with them non-judgmentally allows you the space you need to process them, and once you begin to process them instead of pushing them away or distracting yourself, true healing can follow. Listen to Your Body As a mental health professional and health coach, there is one concept that I cannot stress enough- our mental and physical health are interconnected. You cannot neglect one on your path to healing and expect the other to thrive. When it comes to developing the coping skills that work for you, first, you need to tune into your body and listen to what it needs—moving your body through exercise, going on walks, sitting in the sunlight from your window, making a nutritious meal. From the food you eat to the amount of water you drink to the number of steps you take each day, it affects your mood and mental state. Listening to what your body needs does not just mean being more active. It can also mean taking time to slow down and allowing yourself to rest. It can mean letting yourself indulge in your favorite holiday dessert or letting yourself sleep in. Your body will speak to you if you listen. Practice Gratitude Practicing gratitude can be a difficult task, especially when going through a particularly challenging chapter in your life. It can feel like there is nothing to be grateful for when you are struggling through a difficult time, but that is not true. Making a conscious effort to practice gratitude can lead to a positive shift in your thoughts, feelings, and physical wellbeing. Each day you have a choice. You can focus on only the challenge you face, or you can find small things to be thankful for. These can be things as small as having access to the internet to read articles like this or drinking a warm cup of tea. It can be feeling thankful for certain people in our lives, for our pets, for hearing your favorite song on the way to work, for having a nutritious meal. There are so many little things each day to be grateful for, and when you take the time to find them, your perspective starts to shift from negativity to a place of love and peace. Lean Into What Brings You Joy The last step I will leave you with on your journey to bringing peace to your mind and body this holiday season is to lean into the things that bring you joy. It can be difficult to remember what brings you joy when going through a loss, trauma, stressful event, or challenge in life. No matter what you are facing, know that your trauma or situation does not define you, and it does not take away all the joy that there is in life. Leaning into love and joy are essential steps to take in the healing process. It can be hard to find joy, but when you begin to seek it out each day, it will find you. From small moments to big moments, joy will become more abundant in your life when you actively seek it and actively make the decision to let yourself enjoy. This holiday season, take the time you need to focus on yourself.