- The pressure and stress to conform to particular social and familial expectations can oftentimes make you feel self-conscious. At other times being unable to engage or participate can leaving you feeling guilty or ashamed.
- The increased presence of alcohol
- More interactions with family and friends - even those who may have abused us in the past are oftentimes in our presence throughout this time
- Loss, loneliness, and shame are powerful triggers too
Once you realize what it is about the holidays that are triggering you, it's possible for you to have some semblance of control over what appear to be unpredictable feelings of depression and stress. Knowing that these feelings are normal and giving yourself grace when you experience them is important. To help yourself here, there are some things that you can do, including:
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Talk to Your Family
Create a Plan for Holiday Parties
- Take breaks to step away and get some quiet solace for yourself.
- Give yourself permission to leave before you typically would. Make sure you have an exit plan in place in case this is necessary.
Make Sure You get Plenty of Rest
Avoid Crowds When Possible
Skip the Alcohol
Although holiday parties are full of alcohol, it's highly recommended that people with PTSD opt for some alcohol-free eggnog instead. This is because when you drink too much alcohol it becomes harder for you to cope with stress and memories from your trauma. When you get drunk you make other PTSD symptoms worse (e.g. feeling numb, having no emotions). Alcohol also adds additional unpredictability to situations that are already stressful.
Beyond dealing with your triggers, it's also important to make sure that you're taking care of your PTSD. Like any other health issue, PTSD doesn't just magically disappear because the holiday season is here. Instead, there are some things that you must do, including:
Work on Creating new Traditions