Planning for the Holidays with PTSD

Trauma changes a person's life. However, everyone expects you to remain the same. The stress and pressure of people's expectations upon you can be overwhelming, especially at the holiday time.

Although you probably can't entirely avoid stress over the holidays, planning for the holidays with PTSD in a way that puts you in control can make all the difference. With this in mind, here are some ways you can enjoy the holidays this year:

  • Plan ahead so you can set limits. This allows you to choose what to do when and how you'll do it and with whom you'll spend time. Then you won't find yourself in situations that make you feel uncomfortable. Also put other boundaries in place such as how long you'll stay at an event. Use a planner to map out your game plan. 
  • Make sure you have an exit strategy so you don't feel powerless or like you have no control. Planning for the holidays with PTSD means knowing how you'll take a breather when you need one and how you'll escape for some self-care when the need arises.
  • Remember that it's okay to say no. You're not responsible for making everyone else happy. You're responsible for your own well-being. It's okay to refuse requests.
  • While your friends and family may have their own ideas of how and when each get together will last, you have the right to choose your level of engagement. Planning for the holidays with PTSD means choosing the most healthy options and implementing them regardless of how other people respond.
  • It's important to realize that you don't always have to be the life of the party. By being true to yourself you'll feel less stress and have more successful interactions.
  • Take life 5 minutes at a time. While the holidays can seem endless they're more doable if you don't let yourself look too far into the future. Keep yourself rooted in the present to reduce anxiety and conserve your energy.