When you’re a trauma survivor, it can be difficult to enjoy the holidays. Your mood may be impacted by a number of factors, including overcommercialization, cold weather, seeing toxic family members and more.
Often referred to as the holiday blues, it’s common for people to experience heightened feelings of depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite and other symptoms during the festive season. In fact, nearly 64 percent of people with mental illness report that the holidays often make their condition(s) worse. The added pressure to be festive can place a lot of stress when you are already feeling low.
If you struggle with the holiday blues, there are ways to cope and thrive through the season.
1. Prepare With a Mental Health Professional
If you typically feel low during the holidays each year, create a plan with your mental health professional that you can use before these feelings arise. This may mean scheduling more therapy sessions, checking in with a friend, writing daily to-do lists that are both motivating and manageable or tracking your trauma symptoms with the Mira app.
The more prepared you are, the safer and more secure you are likely to feel.
2. Feel Your Feelings
During the holidays, there is a lot of pressure to be joyful, especially when you are around your loved ones. It may feel like you cannot truly express your holiday blues in fear of bringing others down or being shamed. As a result, you may stuff your emotions away and replace them with feelings of numbness, or you may feel even worse than you did before.
Rather than avoid feelings of sadness and/or anxiety, allow yourself to truly feel all of your feelings. Reminding yourself that it’s totally normal to have low periods, including during the holidays, can alleviate your symptoms and make them easier to manage.
Your feelings are valid, always.
3. Stick to Your Normal Self-Care Routine
With colder and darker days, you may feel unmotivated to continue your regular self-care routine. It’s typically easier to go for a nature walk when it’s summer weather, not when it’s 30 degrees and windy.
To combat the holiday blues, stick to your routine as best as possible, and continue to do activities that bring you joy and comfort. This will allow you to maintain normalcy and a sense of control as you go through the season, which can help alleviate symptoms.
4. Get Daily Exercise
Moving your body every day, even if only for ten minutes, is a great way to reduce the holiday blues. In fact, physical activity has a multitude of benefits, such as promoting better sleep, boosting your endurance and relaxing your muscles.
Some ways you can get daily exercise include:
- Joining a Zumba class
- Doing yoga
- Going for a walk
- Indoor rock climbing
- Taking a dance class
5. Spend Quality Time With Loved Ones & Yourself
Spending quality time with others and with yourself can do wonders for the holiday blues.
First, listen to what your body needs. Perhaps you’ve spent a lot of time with other people and need a solo night in to recuperate and get back intune with yourself, or maybe it would lift your spirits to see your friends and family after being alone for a while.
Either way, spend your time doing activities that rejuvenate your soul – have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone you care about, go for a peaceful nature walk, get a full-night’s sleep. Do what you feel is best.
The holiday blues can be difficult, but with support and hope, relief is possible.
Are you struggling with the holiday blues? Try the Mira app, now on sale for a limited time! With grounding exercises, trigger and symptom tracking tools, a journal and more, you can find relief from your trauma symptoms and thrive this holiday season. To learn more about trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, check out our blog!