Trauma-Informed Organization: Holiday Self-Care
Posted on March 22, 2023
Easter is just around the corner. For some, holidays are a joyous time of gathering with family and friends. However, if you have experienced a recent (or not so recent) loss, holidays and significant dates can create unpredictable and strong emotions. A familiar scent like fresh baked bread, looking at photographs of days gone by, or hearing a loved one’s favorite song can trigger memories—good and challenging ones.
Sometimes, the sense of discomfort or anxiety appears on the days leading up to an anniversary or holiday and you find yourself blindsided. Where it happens can be challenging as well. If you are in the comfort of your own home, you may have more options. But what if it hits you when you are walking through the greeting card aisle or in the middle of your already stressful workday? This is grief—and it is an experience we all share though rarely in the same way. Being trauma-informed for yourself and for others can help to ease the pain.
When you know significant days are coming, you can plan accordingly. While time with loved ones can be comforting it can also be draining. Give yourself permission and space to grieve or allow downtime for suitable numbing activities. Other options might include:
- Going for a brisk walk
- Reaching out to a trusted friend
- Engaging in deep breathing
- Listening to your favorite music
- Journaling your feelings
- Turning to your faith
- Seeking a ritual to honor, remember, or let go
- Drawing or other art-related activities
- Finding and attending a support group
On the CHS residential units, staff are familiar with the language, “staying at 70 degrees”—that optimal regulated zone. Dropping below this regulated zone can lead to being off-task, withdrawal and isolation (flight or freeze). Running too hot may lead to irritability or aggression (fight).
The same is true if you find yourself triggered at work. When possible, take an inventory of how you are feeling emotionally before coming to work. It can be helpful to plan for what helps you regulate on days where you are feeling emotionally charged. Incorporate soothing music into your day. Find scents that are calming for you (lavender may be one). Reach out to a trusted co-worker or your supervisor. Check in with yourself; are the thoughts that are triggering the strong emotions realistic. If not, how can you stop them? If you find that the emotions are debilitating or sense that there is unfinished business related to the grief, consider contacting EAP or a therapist.
Resources in Sioux Falls:
- 211 for support groups and/or therapists
- NAMI: https://namisouthdakota.org/
- Compassionate friends