The holidays are meant to be a cheerful time to frolic in the snow, bake cookies and spend time with your loved ones.
However, the season can be tough when you have toxic family members. Especially for those in trauma recovery, visiting people who invalidate your feelings and experiences can be triggering, causing feelings of anxiety and shame.
To help you through the holiday season, here are a few tips for coping with visiting your toxic family members.
1. Prepare Before You Visit Your Toxic Family
Whether you are visiting your toxic family members for an hour or a few days, it’s smart to prepare yourself for what could happen, and identify as many possible triggers as you can.
Then, create a plan by thinking of ways you can help yourself cope when you are anxious – practice grounding exercises found in the Mira app, write in a journal, repeat positive affirmations and more. Speak with your therapist about your concerns and what strategies you could add to your plan. The better you prepare, the safer and more secure you’ll feel.
2. Set Boundaries With Toxic People
If you don’t feel comfortable enough to be around your toxic family member, you have every right to limit your time with them or not see them at all. Remember: “no” is a full sentence. Although it can be challenging to stand up for yourself, you don’t need to explain your reasoning for setting a boundary and/or leaving at a specific time.
3. Continue Your Self-Care During the Holidays
Keeping up with your self-care can be tough when you’re already dreading what’s to come. It can be even more difficult during the holidays when you’re expected to participate in festive activities.
To best prepare for visiting toxic family members, try your best to maintain your self-care routine, and do the things that bring you joy and comfort. Whether that’s going outside for a walk, regularly taking your medicine or playing an instrument, your routine is centered around what makes you feel your best.
4. Check In With a Friend During Your Visit
Being with a toxic family member can bring feelings of loneliness since you do not have your usual support system physically by your side. To combat those feelings, regularly check in with your friend, therapist or whoever brings you comfort and a sense of safety. This will help you feel better supported, even when they are not presently there.
5. Practice Neutral or Positive Self-Talk
There is a chance that what your toxic family member does or says may trigger feelings of anger, shame or guilt. In order to relieve those symptoms, recite neutral or positive sayings to yourself, such as “I am worthy of love” and “I am good enough as I am.” Your feelings, thoughts and experiences are valid, also during the holidays.
If you’re struggling this holiday season, try the Mira app! With grounding exercises, trigger and symptom tracking, analytics and a journal, you can find relief from your trauma symptoms and thrive through the holidays. We’re offering a limited-time holiday sale on Mira Plus, where you get your first three months for just $4.99/month!
For more information on managing trauma and PTSD symptoms, check out the blog!