As the holiday season approaches, I’m sure many of you are gearing up for that mix of joy, chaos, and family time. While the holidays bring festive cheer, let’s be real – they can also come with a lot of complicated moments that may feel super triggering. If you’ve ever found yourself incensed, guilt-ridden, or on the verge of tears during family gatherings, know that you’re not alone.
The truth is, the holidays can be tough for many people, and that’s why I’m here to offer some encouragement and three practical strategies to help you navigate those triggering moments with grace. At the Calm Mom, we’re all about equipping you with the tools you need to maintain your peace, even in the midst of holiday chaos.
So, what’s happening when you feel triggered? It’s like someone has pressed a button, and suddenly, you’re engulfed in emotions that feel overwhelming. When we’re triggered, something in the present unconsciously transports us back to the past. Our bodies are like libraries, storing memories the mind might forget. The key is to recognize that our nervous system’s primary goal is to keep us safe. When it senses anything similar to a past stressful event, it goes into hyper-vigilance mode, sounding the alarm. This can explain why seemingly harmless comments can trigger such intense reactions.
Growing in Awareness:
The first step in handling triggers is to grow in awareness – both somatically and in understanding your coping mechanisms. Somatic cues involve paying attention to your body’s signals – heart rate, breath, body temperature, and muscle tension. What does your body do when you’re triggered? Additionally, recognize your patterned coping mechanisms – fight, shut down, avoid, please others, or over analyze. Understanding these cues and responses is crucial for self-awareness.
Three Strategies for Holiday Success:
- Go in Well Resourced: Expand your “window of tolerance” by taking care of yourself beforehand. Ensure you’re well-rested and nourished. Going into a triggering situation with a clear mind and a satisfied stomach can make a significant difference. Unify with your own family, especially your partner, to strengthen your support system.
- Ask Your Partner for Help: Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Communicate with your partner and come up with a plan before heading into potentially triggering situations. Discuss boundaries, the duration of your stay, and how to handle specific scenarios. Having a unified front and a plan can alleviate stress.
- Take a Time Out to Regulate: When you sense somatic cues or feel the impulse to fall back into coping mechanisms, don’t hesitate to take a time out. You’re not obligated to stay and engage in a triggering situation. Create excuses like needing something from the car or a quick bathroom break. Use this time to regulate your emotions, ensuring you can navigate the rest of the event with ease.
Remember, preparation is key. Control what you can, resource yourself, and go into the holiday season with a plan. You’ve got this – here’s to a holiday season filled with more joy and less triggers!
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