While many people love the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, surviving the holidays with CPTSD can be a challenge. Many people actually have a love-hate relationship with the holidays for this reason. While they want to relax and enjoy the spirit of the season and they try their best to do so, at some point it becomes difficult for them to keep it together.
This time of year can also be confusing if you have CPTSD, especially if it's from childhood trauma in your family. While it's normal to want to be connected to your family it can also weaken your defenses because you long to be a part of a loving family that celebrates the holidays together even though this could be harmful to you. Family expectations can also cause you to put yourself in triggering or unsafe situations.
When you have CPTSD you may be tempted to think that if the holidays aren't all good then they must be all bad. However, this isn't the case. You can find a balance. You can experience some comfort and joy.
Steps for Surviving the Holidays with CPTSD
- Shore up your boundaries. Set limits for how long you'll spend in situations that may potentially trigger you. Remember, you have a right to say no and leave a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Don't overcommit. While you may feel obligated to attend events that you normally wouldn't feel comfortable with, remember you have the right to say no. When you overcommit you can feel overwhelmed which will increase your anxiety and stress and make your CPTSD harder to manage.
- Have compassion for yourself. If your childhood wasn't filled with happy memories it makes sense that today's holidays make you feel sad. Give yourself permission to grieve the childhood you lost.
- Create your own new happy memories and traditions. This is your opportunity to show your inner child the joy you should have had at Christmas time when you were a child.