Christmas time can be a mixed bag of experience for different people. Although we might have time off, work pressures can be replaced by pressure to buy presents for family and friends, hosting a Christmas get together, or being expected to join in with the festivities when you are not religious or of a Christian faith.
At Christmas we might be limited to seeing select family members and friends or we may not have many friends or family. Christmas time can cause some people to feel more isolated than at any other time of year.
Why might Christmas be difficult for trauma sufferers?
PTSD symptoms might include difficulty with moods, intrusive memories and thoughts as well as hyper-arousal. Acting normally in a family setting whilst trying to manage these symptoms can be very difficult. The disparity between how you feel and the impression you are trying to give to others can be overwhelming. Managing intense emotions in the context of family and friends can also be difficult. Although good friends and close family are sometimes in the best position to support us they are also the people who can trigger us the most.
If you think that you might be suffering from trauma symptoms it can be helpful to communicate this to close family and trusted friends so that they know what you are going through. If they know what symptoms you are suffering from they can make extra provision for you. Communicating your needs is also important so that family members do not question you taking some time out or wanting to be on your own at times when everyone else is feasting or partying.
Take some regular exercise. Get out and go for a walk and get some space. Walking in nature can be very calming and helps you to calm your nervous system. If you are experiencing difficulties with a family member it can help to take a walk with them.
What can I do to help a loved one who is suffering from Trauma symptoms at Christmas?
If you are a person who is trying to support someone who is suffering from mental health difficulties it is important to educate yourself in terms of some of the difficulties the person might be suffering from. Articles on this site that might be helpful include:
Some people may not be aware that they are suffering from PTSD symptoms so having someone else to reassure them that 'they are having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation' can be enormously helpful.
Putting pressure and expectation on someone you are trying to support is unhelpful. Give them space and the option to join in in they want to gives them freedom to breath and feel less stress and pressure. Someone suffering from PTSD symptoms might feel more protected when they are in isolation. Making them feel they have support if they want it will help to make them feel safe. Just giving someone support by being there can be enough. When they do communicate it is important to listen and empathise with them. This means listening to them for the sake of listening rather than listening with a solution mindset.
Giving someone you are trying to support a get out option can also be helpful. You might explain that there is another room they can go and sit in if they want some space or they can go for a walk on their own or offer to go with them if they prefer.
It can be difficult for someone suffering from trauma to help themselves. This can be because they don’t know where to start, they think that they cannot be helped or they may think they are going mad. There is lots of support out there in the form or psychotherapy or solution focused EMDR for PTSD.
Getting something booked in so that they have professional help in the near future can help someone with PTSD symptoms see some light at the end of the tunnel. For help with trauma symptoms or to book EMDR therapy please contact us on the link below.