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  • Dana Arcuri

The Holidays & Trauma


Holidays are a time of joy. You see people happy, excited, and attending social gatherings. It is a busy time of year when we may visit family, friends, and celebrate festivities together. A classic song made popular by Andy Williams is called It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. For some of us, it can fill us with nostalgia, or warm, fuzzy feelings. Unfortunately, the holidays can be an exceptionally challenging period for some people. For some abuse and trauma survivors, the holidays can be difficult.


There are many valid reasons. Here are a few:

  • You can be grieving the loss of your loved one who had passed away.

  • You're in the midst of tough times.

  • You may be struggling with mental health challenges related to trauma, including PTSD, Complex PTSD, depression, or anxiety.

  • You are estranged from one or more family members.

  • You are grieving the loss of relationship in which the person is still alive.

  • You have experienced homelessness, a job loss, financial hardships, etc.

  • You are battling chronic pain, a medical condition, or an illness.

  • You are isolated and alone.

  • You are separated or divorced from your spouse or intimate partner.

If you’re experiencing dread, grief, or pain as the holidays approach, take a moment to name your feelings. If you are experiencing extra stress, anxiety, or depression, you may have trouble functioning. No matter what you are feeling, all of your human emotions are valid.


Try to build awareness on your emotions, triggers, and identify what you are feeling. Understand that it is okay to not feel okay. It is perfectly fine to not force a smile on your face and pretend that all is cheery if you are feeling down.


Learn to identify your moods, energy, and emotions. To be honest with yourself. To listen to your body signals and pain levels. Take time to process what you are currently going through in effort to cope during the holiday season.


If you’re experiencing the holiday blues, there is no such thing as “just getting over it,” especially since the holidays are so focused on family, togetherness, and love. Truth be told, not everyone was raised by a caring, nurturing, respectful family. Not everyone has a tightknit family, close friends, or connections with caring people.


If you’re coping with a broken relationship, don’t dwell on the past or the once-hoped-for future. Accept your current conscious reality. Focus on moving forward into a future that you create one step and one day at a time. Wipe out your ex’s (or toxic person's) contact information from your phone. Avoid falling into the trap of making a “holiday desperation” call, text, or visit.


You deserve far more than breadcrumbs. You are so worthy to be respected. You deserve someone in your life who sincerely loves you for who you are. You are worthy of compassion, empathy, grace, mercy, and unconditional love.


If you’re mourning the loss of a loved one or friend, honor the person who has passed away. Consider continuing a tradition that was important to them. Create a new tradition in memory of that special person. Light a candle in their honor. Make or buy a new holiday ornament or decoration that reminds you of your loved one, and honor them each year as you hang it up.


If you are a trauma survivor, understand that going down memory lane can be uncomfortable, especially if it's linked to the perpetrators who hurt you. Whenever holiday memories pop up, give yourself plenty of grace. You do not have to recreate any of your childhood/adulthood scenes that may be connected with traumatic experiences.


Try to reduce your expectations, and "to do list" in effort to decrease your stress levels. Oftentimes, less work and activities are best. Avoid "fawning" friends, coworkers, or family members who expect you to act jolly during the holidays.


Fawning is a trauma response in which some abuse survivors may not be aware that they're doing this. In a nutshell, fawning is people-pleasing, looking for approval, or seeking acceptance. Remember, you do not have to be everything to everyone. Stay true to yourself and do what you believe is healthiest and wisest for you.


For those having a rough time this holiday season, try to connect with safe people whom you can share some of your experiences. When abuse survivors are seen, heard, understood, and supported, it can help them heal. Also, it may help you reclaim your personal power.


Lastly, carve out time for self-care. I cannot overstate the importance of self-care during the holidays. If you feel exhausted, drained, or fatigue, give yourself permission to rest. If you are hungry, try to choose healthy, nutritious foods that provide protein and vitamins.


Self-care can look unique to each individual because we are quite different people. If you are creative, you may enjoy writing, cooking a new dish, drawing, or painting. For those who prefer solitude, listening to nature sounds can be very soothing and calming. Check out YouTube or Spotify for sound healing music, ocean wave sounds, or instrumental music.


Boost your "feel good endorphins" with exercise. Go for a nature walk, jog, dance, run, or do Pilates. Even ten minutes can positively impact your mental health, and it’s enough time to get outside for a breath of fresh air, a quick meditation, or fit in a quick workout, yoga, or doing gentle stretching.


This holiday season, if you need emotional support, I am a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach who offers sacred space to trauma survivors. I provide my clients with voice and choice in their recovery process.


This means they are seen, heard, validated, and their boundaries respected. I offer nonjudgmental emotional support to each client. To learn more, check out my coaching page. https://www.danaarcuri.com/copy-of-about


Dear beautiful souls, you got through your traumatic events, and you will get through your current challenges. Please hold onto hope for a brighter future.


I am here for you. During this holiday season, I am sending you peace, love, and light.

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