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Dealing with Family Trauma During the Holidays

Dealing with Family Trauma During the Holidays

Dealing with Family Trauma During the Holidays 2560 1709 srtc_admin

When we think of the holidays we may think of twinkling lights, family traditions, and general merriment. But the reality is that for many people, the holidays are fraught with difficult emotions and memories. This holiday season, think about what might make you go through the holidays feeling stronger and more confident. Even little changes can make a difference in the way we deal with trauma and stress during this time of year. 

Identify Triggers: Think about how the holiday season impacts you. What helps and what hurts? The holidays are full of nostalgia and memories that can be both positive and negative. It can be helpful to go into the holidays with a clear understanding of what situations or topics may have a negative affect on your mental health. 

Healthy Coping Skills: With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season many people lose sight of what keeps them physically healthy and mentally grounded throughout the rest of the year. Making the time to go for a walk or engage in a mindfulness practice can make a big difference in how you handle holiday stress. 

Have Realistic Expectations: The holidays can come with a lot of pressure and expectations of how things “should” be. Remember that those happy holidays that we see in commercials and movies are not most people’s reality. Most families have issues, whether that is stress or trauma. Having unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment. Instead, know that the holidays will not be perfect and that’s completely normal. 

Set Boundaries: The holidays are a busy time for everyone, and with the pressure of family, friends, and work obligations it is also a time when it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It can be helpful to discern what you “need” to do and what you “want” to do. For example, do you need to attend every gathering you’re invited to? Not if it causes you stress or is triggering. Do you need to attend your family dinner even though you know it will devolve into arguments? No, you do not. Try thinking about what you want to do. What brings you joy during the holidays? Maybe it’s baking cookies or visiting your grandparents. Those are the things to make time for. 

Reach Out: Dealing with family stress and trauma at any time of the year can be challenging, but it’s especially challenging during the holidays. In those times when you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that you will not stay in this place forever. Allow your mind and body to process the grief that you may experience. Have people in your life, whether friends, family, or mental health professionals, who you can reach out to when those heavy emotions emerge. It is especially important to have a support system in place during the holidays. 

Solstice RTC Can Help

The core of our programming is based on healing damaged relationships and restoring healthy connections within the family system. In addition to weekly family therapy sessions by phone or video-conference, we also invite families to come to participate in face-to-face family therapy sessions. Weekend visits with their children are encouraged.

We also conduct onsite, multi-day, family seminars which includes all families who are currently enrolled in our program. These intensive, multi-family experiences are conducted 4 times a year and provide powerful, experiential, and therapeutic experiences. Oftentimes families will highlight these events as significant turning points in their lives. For more information please call (801) 406-7450.