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How To Navigate Trauma During The Holidays

Finding ways to create new traditions and positive memories.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, peace, and warmth, a time to cherish the moments with family and friends. However, for many individuals who have experienced trauma, this season can be anything but cheerful. Trauma can affect us deeply, and during the holiday season, triggers can surface that can lead to a wide range of emotions.

The impact of trauma on the holiday season can be profound. It can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially if the trauma was related to the loss of a loved one or if the survivor is struggling to connect with others. It can also create intense feelings of guilt and shame, making it hard for survivors to enjoy the festivities or to take pleasure in simple pleasures like exchanging gifts or spending time with loved ones.

As we go through life, we often experience various forms of trauma that leave deep scars in our minds and hearts. It’s common for these traumatic events to impact our inner child, the innocent and vulnerable part of ourselves that longs for safety, love, and affection. Our inner child is that part of us that never really grows up, the one that still believes in Santa Claus and magic spells, and can’t resist a good snowball fight. It’s the part that sees the world with innocent wonder and awe, and knows how to find joy in the smallest things. But as we get older and busier, we tend to ignore that part of us, pushing it deeper and deeper into the recesses of our minds. And yet, it’s the part that can bring us the most happiness and fulfillment, especially during the holidays.

One of the ways we can heal from trauma is learning how to be a good parent to our inner child. Being a good parent to our inner child requires patience, compassion, and a willingness to truly listen to our own needs and emotions. Just like a child needs structure and routine to feel safe and secure, our inner child craves consistency and predictability in our daily lives. So, the first step in being a good parent to our inner child is to create a stable environment for ourselves. This may involve setting regular meal times, bedtimes, and exercise routines, as well as taking time to prioritize self-care activities that make us feel nurtured and fulfilled.

In addition to establishing structure, being a good parent to our inner child also means recognizing and acknowledging our emotions. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the stresses and demands of adult life, but by pausing to check in with ourselves regularly, we can identify when our inner child is feeling sad, anxious, or upset. This might mean taking a break from work to go for a walk outside, or simply taking a few deep breaths and repeating calming affirmations to ourselves.

Perhaps most importantly, being a good parent to our inner child requires treating ourselves with the same kindness and respect we would show to a beloved child. This means speaking to ourselves in a gentle, encouraging tone, rather than berating ourselves for perceived failures or shortcomings. It also means celebrating our accomplishments and successes, no matter how small, and taking pride in the progress we’ve made.

Now if you’ve been in therapy before you have likely worked on improving your life through these areas already and if you haven’t yet, don’t worry. It is never too late to begin healing, and since the holidays can add a lot of pressure already I am offering ways to help engage your inner child this holiday season and find the joy you’ve been missing all year. 

Ten strategies for doing this include:

1. Baking cookies

2. Writing a letter to Santa

3. Playing in the snow (if we’re lucky to have a white Christmas!)

4. Watching your favorite holiday movies

5. Making homemade ornaments

6. Visiting holiday light shows

7. Decorating with paper snowflakes

8. Drinking hot cocoa

9. Singing carols

10. Making gingerbread houses

As we grow older and experience the trials and tribulations of life, it’s easy to lose touch with our inner child. We become so consumed with adult responsibilities and expectations that we forget about the innocence and playfulness that once filled our hearts.

But it’s essential to remember that our inner child is still within us, and it’s crucial to stay mindful and present with that part of ourselves. When we neglect our inner child, we risk losing our sense of wonder and joy in life.

So, let’s take a moment to connect with our inner child. Let’s spend time doing things that bring us happiness and tap into our playful spirit. Let’s be mindful of our thoughts and feelings and not judge ourselves for experiencing childlike emotions.

By staying connected with our inner child, we cultivate a deep sense of self-love and appreciation. We remind ourselves that it’s okay to let loose, be silly, and enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

In conclusion, staying mindful and present with our inner child is essential for our overall well-being and happiness. It’s a reminder that we don’t have to take life too seriously and that sometimes the most profound joy comes from the simplest of things.