PTSD symptoms rise around the holidays. For some people this time of year is like walking through a minefield of triggers. On my other blog I shared some tips for coping through the Holidays….
This is a reprint from 2014 – information still applies: I added to my list
It comes every year, like clock work or calendar work. First, Halloween with hauntings and triggers galore. Followed by Thanksgiving with demands for the perfect meal and a ‘happy family’ without resolving old hurts. Then infamous/famous Christmas with expectations bigger than the National Christmas tree….do we even get a national tree any more?
Prepare my toolbox of coping skills I’ve learned….in my box I have:
Acceptance that I am not perfect….I don’t need to be. In fact, I can’t be. That is OK.
Best laid plans can fall apart. I will survive plans falling apart.
(NEW) Someone else can plan things and they can do a wonderful job without me being less because I didn’t do it.
Have an exit plan on hand for different situations. Practice exit phrases….”I loved being here but I am leaving now.”
Or don’t go in the first place….. “The evening sounds lovely I am sorry I won’t be attending.” I don’t need to explain that I am sitting in front of my Christmas tree sipping hot chocolate.
Prioritize activities. Not all activities are #1.
Skip some traditions…. It doesn’t stop being a tradition if I don’t do it one year.
Not having some detail completed is not the end of the World.
NO is a complete sentence.
I do not need to explain my choices unless I choose to.
Breathe…..feeling blue breathe.
MMV (learned this from my sister) Mental Mini Vacations. Emotionally escape to a deserted island where there is no holiday madness. Picture myself on a beach sipping coconut juice.
Letting go means I don’t need to fix it or think about it any more.
Some people will flip out during the Holidays and it is not about me. NOTHING I do will stop their behavior because it is not about me.
Remember that emotional black mail is still black mail. I am not ‘mean’, ‘cruel’, or ‘going to hell’ if I don’t meet someone else’s expectations.
Crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head is an acceptable activity as needed.
Call a friend or have a text buddy to check in with during stressful events that I choose to attend.
Change all my ‘can’ts’ and ‘have-tos’ to I choose to do___________________. I don’t enjoy ___________________but I am choosing to do it anyway because some other need is being met that I may not understand myself. No one is holding a gun to my head. It may feel like it but that is probably emotional black mail…refer to emotional black mail above.
Christ is my Savior and as far as historians can figure out He was born in April any way.
Make choices with my happiness in my mind. I enjoy doing things for others and I am happy doing things for them….that is part of my happiness equation.
(NEW) I am not responsible for other people’s happiness. Happiness is an inside job and I have enough on my plate teaching me to be happy during the holidays.
(NEW) It is OK to be super excited and dread Christmas at the same time. I call it being bi-North-Polar.
(NEW) If you know you will be in a certain situation, practice responses. If you know certain people will jerk your chain, plan your answers in advance. Practice with your counselor or person that you know has your back. Ask for suggestions on better way to handle situations.
(NEW) Not socializing with your abusers is not being unforgiving, it is staying safe. (Especially applies to family members.)
Reminder – If you always do what you always done, you will always get what you always got. Change yourself and your situation is forced to change.
I can add to this list at any time…..anyone want to share their coping techniques?