Once again, the holiday season is upon us. For some people, this really is the most wonderful time of the year, as they look forward to time off from work and school and the opportunity to spend quality time with their family and friends. But for many others, the holidays are a difficult time rather than a joyful one. The pressure of buying gifts and traveling to visit family can create a lot of stress, especially for those who are struggling with financial difficulties. For people who struggle with seasonal affective disorder, or the “winter blues”, the shorter days and reduced amount of sunlight that accompany this time of year can lead to feelings of sadness, fatigue, and other symptoms of depression. Holidays can also be a painful reminder of loved ones who have died, especially when the loss is a recent one.
This time of year can be particularly painful for trauma survivors. People who have experienced trauma may find that their traumatic stress symptoms and triggers worsen around this time of year. The holidays can exacerbate the feelings of “otherness” that many trauma survivors feel, as they see the contrast between the joyousness of those around them and their own pain and suffering. For people who are survivors of dysfunctional childhood families, the thought of “going home for the holidays” may be bringing up feelings of dread rather than excitement.
Here are a few ideas to help you survive the holiday season this year: