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How to survive tricky family dynamics during the holidays

Mother with three kids running in beautiful winter forest. The little girl is aged 10 and her brothers are aged 7. Cold winter day

Time with family is often a big part of the holiday season. Yet for many people with PTSD, family can trigger traumatic memories. Every family is different, as is every trauma experience. But caring for your needs this time of year is an important way of coping.

Some ways to manage difficult family situations:

Decide what you’re comfortable with. Don’t want to see certain people? You may not be able to control the guest list (unless you’re hosting). But you can decide whether to go to certain events. You can also choose how long to stay. For out-of-town visits, you can choose to stay in a hotel instead of with family. Set your boundaries. And then stick to them.

Plan what you’ll say. Are there questions or conversation topics that you’re dreading? Plan assertive responses ahead of time and practice them.

Organize a new activity. When family dynamics are tricky, sitting around can feel like waiting for conflict to arise. Consider planning an activity you can do together. Go on a walk, see a movie, or play a board game. Doing something different from what you’ve always done may help to create new, less traumatic memories.

Have an exit strategy. Taking breaks from the group can be a helpful way to manage your energy levels and cope with triggers that may come up. It’s OK to go for a walk by yourself, read a book, meditate, or just take some time alone to breathe and relax.

Get help when you need it. Many people experience an increase in symptoms of PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety, or depression this time of year. Know that you’re not alone, and help is available. You can call or text 988 anytime to connect with a mental health professional.

About Freespira

Freespira is an at-home treatment for panic attacks and PTSD symptoms that can relieve symptoms in just a month. Freespira doesn’t require medication or visits to a health care provider. It has low to no side effects and is safe to use with most other medical treatments.

See if Freespira is right for you by using our online screener.

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