Trauma Triggers: 5 Tips on Navigating Them During the Holidays

Shows a woman laying down in her Christmas decorated room. Represents how a trauma therapist in Orange County, CA can help you navigate your triggers for the holidays.

Everyone talks about how the holidays are a time of joy and happiness. But for those living with trauma and mental health conditions, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time. Maybe you are struggling with memories of past traumas, or simply dealing with overwhelming triggers. It can be hard to navigate through the holiday season.

Fortunately, there are a few key tips that can help you navigate through the holidays with greater ease and self-care.

Self-Care is Essential

Shows a woman meditating with her cat. Represents how trauma therapist in orange county, ca will recommend self-care to help with trauma triggers

During the holidays, it can be easy to get swept up in the business and obligations of the season. But it is so important to make time for yourself. Even if that means skipping out on some of the social events that are typically a part of the holidays. I’m not talking about skipping your yoga class or your regular walks. But rather finding creative ways to carve out time for yourself during such a busy and crowded season. It’s also okay to take time for you. A time that’s quiet and still. So, try to set aside some time each day to just be with yourself.

Check-in With Yourself

Shows a woman sitting against a guardrail. Represents how a trauma therapist in Orange County, CA may recommend taking time to check in with yourself.

With the holiday hustle and bustle, it can be hard to remember to take care of yourself. Especially, if you live with trauma and its associated triggers. That’s why it is so important to check in with yourself. Besides self-care, it’s a good idea to take time to reflect on how you’re feeling. You can even think of what your triggers might be for the day. Then make a plan for what you can do to help you feel more grounded and present. This way you can evaluate what you need and make choices that support your well-being. This can look like skipping out on your yearly holiday party with your high school friends. Then stay in and watch Netflix. There’s no “right” way to celebrate the holidays – it’s all about what works for you.

Have Boundaries in Place

Being with family or having traditions in place can make it seem like you are obligated to participate in every aspect of the holidays. However, it is important to remember that you can always say “no”. Especially, if an invitation or situation feels overwhelming or triggering. You may have gone every year before but that doesn’t mean you always have to go. If you do decide to participate, try to set boundaries and communicate them ahead of time. For example, you might say something like, “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to stay for long this year because I have some things I need to get done.”

Avoid Discussing Past Trauma and Triggers

Shows a woman with her hands up. Represents how boundaries can help with trauma triggers

The holidays are always the time of the year when relatives, friends, and acquaintances like to reminisce about the past. However, it can be unproductive and even triggering to discuss past trauma, especially if you are not in a safe and supportive environment. If you’re talking to someone that is considered a safe individual, you might want to consider educating them ahead of time. For example, you could say something like, “I’m having a hard time this year with the holidays, so I’m going to ask that we don’t talk about certain topics.”

This will allow you to avoid potentially triggering conversations and be able to focus on the positive aspects of the holidays. However, for people like that one relative you ONLY see during the holidays, it might be best to keep things general or simply avoid those conversations altogether. You can also have your own answers prepared, such as, “Thank you for asking, but I don’t feel like talking about that right now. Tell me more about what’s going on in your life.” Because people love to talk about themselves, this will give you a chance to make conversation while also avoiding any sensitive or triggering topics.

Find a Supportive Community

You love your family, friends, and community, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend all of your time surrounded by them during the holidays. There are just some things they don’t understand and your trauma triggers may be one of them. If it feels more supportive and comforting to be around other people that can relate to you, then find those individuals! This way you can have people in your corner when you’re feeling vulnerable or overwhelmed and know that you’re not alone in your experiences. For example, you might find a community of local survivors or trauma-informed yoga classes in your area. This way you can feel seen, heard, and understood by people that share your experiences.

Interested in Working with a Trauma Therapist in Orange County, CA?

Navigating the holidays can be challenging, especially if you are dealing with past trauma. It might not make you feel all holly and jolly, but there are things you can do to help feel grounded and supported. Our team of caring therapists can help you find ways to cope and be more present during the holidays. To start your therapy journey with Moxie Family Therapy, please follow these simple steps:

Other Therapy Services Offered at Moxie Family Therapy

At Moxie Family Therapy, we know holiday triggers can be tough, especially if you have experienced trauma in the past. But, they might not be the only struggle that you are facing. This is why our therapists provide a variety of therapy services online and in-person at our Orange County, CA-based practice. We offer counseling for young adults, children, women, teens, and couples. Additionally, we offer therapy for therapists, clinical supervision, adoption therapy, art therapy, and play therapy. Our team is also happy to support the LGBTQ+ community.  Contact us today and learn how we can help you reclaim your moxie.

About the Author

Shows Melissa Mellon a therapist and owner of Moxie Family Therapy.

Melissa Mellon LMFT is a therapist and the owner of Moxie Family Therapy in Orange County, CA. She knows trauma doesn’t take a break for the holidays and isn’t a therapist to simply just sit and listen. Melissa will listen to you, support you, and challenge you in a safe space so you’re prepared for outside difficult situations. This way you can focus on enjoying the holidays and begin your journey to healing.

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