Surviving the Holidays

The year is coming to a close, and with it comes all the usual excitement. Every street will be illuminated with festive lights, every store will be advertising the most enticing of sales, every public space will be filled with the sounds of familiar seasonal tunes, and every person’s calendar will be dauntingly filled with holiday party invites.

Holiday festivities can be exciting; a bright spot at the end of a long year. That long-awaited holiday party may be your time to reconnect with seldom-seen family, or your annual Thanksgiving feast may be your most cherished tradition with your closest friends. And who doesn’t love the yearly excuse to indulge in the most decadent of baked goodies? Yes, the holiday season certainly comes with its comforts. But, this time of year can be trying, as well. With the cultural pressures of the season, the holidays can be hard for anyone—for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, especially.

For all the survivors reading this post, we want you to know we recognize the challenges this season may bring to you. Especially if your family is tied to your abuse in some way. It could be that they didn’t believe you, that they didn’t stop it, that they don’t support you on your healing journey, or that someone in your family was the abuser. For some survivors, holiday parties present the frightening possibility of being in the same room as their perpetrator.

All the hustle and bustle of the holidays may be triggering. So what do you do in order to keep yourself safe and happy during the holidays? We know it can be hard. So, we’ve created an interactive worksheet for Surviving The Holidays to help you make your self-care plan ahead of time. View the worksheet below, and download your own copy:

We made this worksheet for survivors of sexual abuse. But you don’t need to be a survivor to benefit from our Surviving The Holidays worksheet. The holidays can be stressful for anyone, so if the worksheet feels useful, please feel free to download!

For some added guidance, we asked the clinicians here at The Younique Foundation for their tips, and most of them, unsurprisingly, centered around self-care.

It’s important that you take care of yourself before, during, and after any events you attend. Here is the advice from our clinicians:

  • Remember that you are the expert of your own life. Nobody knows what’s best for you more than you do. The more you trust what your “inner voice” whispers to you, the better you will get at trusting yourself. You have the right to set healthy boundaries for yourself. Keep this in mind if friends or family make you feel bad about your choices any time during the holidays.
  • Be kind to yourself and make self-care a priority – you are worth the time and investment to keep yourself healthy.
  • Realize that triggers may happen during holiday events, so make a plan ahead of time for how you are going to deal with them. Proactively face triggers instead of operating in a reactive mode.
  • If possible, make sure you can contact your therapist or a trusted friend if you start feeling anxious or panicking. Let them know beforehand that you’re going to be at a certain place at a certain time and may need to talk to them in that time-frame.
  • Create physical distance between yourself and your perpetrator if they are a member of your family. Avoid being alone with them and try to sit as far from them as possible.
  • Don’t give up – stay vigilant, give yourself space to think, and remember what has helped in the past.
  • Practice your favorite grounding techniques.
  • The holidays can be fun and exciting. Sometimes though it can be overwhelming and exhausting. Remember to take the time for self-care. Relax in a bubble bath, sip a cup of cocoa in front of the fireplace, practice yoga stretches for tension relief, or immerse yourself in a good book. Feeling rejuvenated and uplifted will give you the energy to face the hustle and bustle.