I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. We've officially entered the holiday season. For some people that means good times with family and friends. But for people with a history of abuse, the holidays can be a nightmare. For some, that means being
around the same people who were the sources of abuse. For others that might be the stress of travel, planning, schedule changes and so on. It might mean reliving painful memories. Some people try to avoid the holidays all together. There are some things you can do, however, to make it a little easier to cope. If you are in therapy, you may want to discuss this further with your therapist and find the best solutions for you.
1. Plan ahead. Think about what events you are going to have and plan which ones you want to be a part of. Plan for time for self care. Perhaps consider what you will do if you become overwhelmed or stressed.
2. Take care of yourself. Remember to take any medications you may have and take them as prescribed. Eat regular meals. Stay hydrated. Maintain your basic grooming/hygiene routine.
3. Remember it is OK to say "No". This means you can say you don't want to go to an event. You can say no to taking on extra responsibilities during the holidays. If there is something you are dreading or really don't want to do, give yourself permission to say "no" to that.
4. Honor yourself. You do not have to remain in a situation where you feel uncomfortable. If you feel you need to leave, then do so. If you need to take a break, then do so. Listen to your body, mind, and spirit and remember to acknowledge what you need.
5. Think about a support system. If possible, is there a trusted friend that you can bring along with you? Is there a person or group of people you can call if needed? Is there a warm line that you can reach out to in the event you need to talk? It may be possible there is someone at the event who is a support for you. Think about these people/groups ahead of time and let them know you may need some support and ask if they are willing to be there for you.
6. Limit alcohol (or other substances). Alcohol and drugs have a negative impact on your judgement and increases your vulnerability. It may be best to avoid it all together.
7. Remember your safety. Above all else, avoid situations in which your physical safety is in jeopardy. Have a safety plan in place and know what to do should you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.
These suggestions, coupled with healthy skills you have already learned and are working on can help to manage the holidays a little better. Remember the holidays are hard. Give yourself permission to take care of you first.