Healing in the Holidays

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Healing and the Holidays: Recovering from Past Trauma

Whether you’ve experienced losses, hurts, and other difficulties in any shape or form, trauma can hinder you from feeling joy during the holiday season. What are some ways that you can recover from past trauma as Christmas is fast approaching?

2020 was a challenging year for many people, and for some, 2021 is no different. Surges of COVID-19 variants, environmental concerns, financial worries, natural disasters, and other issues are all personal challenges we might face.

When we experience or witness loss, have been hurt by others, or become involved in other emotional incidents, we might also endure trauma. Trauma is an emotional response to previous difficulties and can make it hard to function day-to-day.

People dealing with trauma might experience flashbacks, anxiety, depression, irritability, sleep problems, substance abuse, addiction, problems in their relationships, a combination of these, or other conditions.

This holiday season can be your opportunity to heal from the trauma. It’s possible to end the year on a positive note while looking forward to new beginnings in the upcoming year. What are some ways to help yourself heal from past trauma?

Participating in enriching experiences

Every person has at least one activity that makes them feel more alive. Whether it’s reading books, spending time outdoors, indulging in a hobby, or gathering with loved ones, filling your holidays with enriching experiences can keep you focused on activities instead of trauma.

Some ideas include:

  • Camping out in nature: After finding a nearby campsite, you can spend a night or two in nature. You can cook meals, breathe in the fresh air, enjoy hikes, and watch the stars at night.
  • Writing: Writing can be a cathartic experience—you don’t have to be a professional writer to release your thoughts and emotions through words. Start with a blank page and just keep jotting down whatever is on your mind.
  • Creating art: Creating something stimulates the part of your brain that can lower anxiety levels. There’s a sense of accomplishment when you finish a painting, play an original tune on an instrument, or sculpt something with your own hands.

Surround yourself with a supportive community

Having a community to share your struggles, gain support, and to remind yourself that you’re not alone can help you heal from past trauma. Losing a loved one, experiencing an abusive relationship, or living with an illness can be isolating and contribute to emotional distress.

Finding a tribe can empower you and help you face your journey toward healing. Some supportive communities could include:

  • Local support groups: Local groups, clubs, or nonprofits might relate to your unique experiences. People with histories of substance abuse problems might participate in Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. People looking for volunteer opportunities might want to join nonprofit community organizations.
  • Online groups: Some places to seek online assistance include discussion boards, social media platforms, and chat groups that offer companionship and advice. They could offer support along with convenient ways of accessing different communities.
  • Religious groups: Spiritual groups can also assist people. Consider contacting a local church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other congregation to ask if it has groups that can provide support.

By being active in your community, you can participate in holiday events. For example, you and others can volunteer at local soup kitchens, hold donation drives, or throw get-togethers where you can create fond memories together.

Cultivate your inner peace

Holidays are also times to rest and cultivate inner peace. Since Christmas and other holidays are often touted as times of peace and joy, you can do certain things to achieve feelings of warmth and tranquility.

Some pursuits might include:

  • Incorporating hygge: The Danish concept of hygge encourages people to create warm and cozy environments to promote inner peace. Lighting candles, keeping your place clean and comfortable, and enjoying restorative times alone or with others can promote hygge and well-being.
  • Exploring your spirituality: Some people have found a sense of peace by exploring their spiritual beliefs. They can do that by joining church groups, reading books, talking to spiritual leaders, or doing other things that nurture their souls.
  • Meditating: Meditating can bring awareness to how you process your thoughts, including your emotional responses to traumatic experiences and how they affect your daily life. Taking in-person or online courses can help you start the practice.

Seeking professional help

The holidays can also be a time to examine your priorities. Healing from past trauma can involve all areas of your health–physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

If you’re dealing with trauma, mental health problems, substance abuse or addiction, or other conditions, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. Talking to a counselor or other professional can help you understand your problems and develop ways to solve them.

Professionals can guide you through healing processes that can help long after the initial treatment ends.

Break Free from Trauma: A Time for Peace and Healing

Christmas and other holidays are good reminders that no matter how troublesome life can be, there is always time for peace and healing.


cdc.gov – Coping with a Traumatic Event

npr.org – Feeling Artsy? Here’s How Making Art Helps Your Brain

countryliving.com – What Is Hygge? Everything You Need To Know About the Danish Lifestyle Trend

sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Substance Abuse & Addiction Counseling Techniques

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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