As the holidays quickly approach, many of us are navigating the complicated dynamics that accompany this time of year. A common topic of conversation is family, relationships, and how they can impact our self-care, boundaries, and sense of connection. For those of us who have experienced sexual trauma, the effects on our family and relationships can be a significant source of pain and confusion.
We compiled a list of considerations in hopes of inspiring you to engage in practices that promote empowerment, radical self-care, and direction during this holiday season. To guide us, we created a list ranging from personal approaches to safety and security along with resources we find important at this time of year.
Create a self-care plan as a preventative measure. We invite you to spend time assessing possible distressing events, conversations, or people you may encounter. Take time to explore each of these possible triggers to focus on what you can do in the moment to reduce stress or care for yourself with healthy coping.
TIP: Despite good intentions, creating a self-care plan can cause distress in even thinking about it. Set aside a time limit to give yourself permission to explore this and then move on.
Affirmations and intentions can be helpful in promoting positive self-talk and re-framing challenging thoughts we may have during this time.
TIP: Write quotes, affirmations, or intentions on a note-card that you can easily reference during times when you need support. You can put this note-card in your pocket or a convenient place.
Recruit Support. Identify people who you can reach out to. They can be present at the event or made available.
TIP: Write out who is on your support list and put the list somewhere that is easily accessible.
TIP: Prearrange what your needs are so the person can be prepared to offer support in the way that is more effective for you. An example: “Tomorrow I am going to a family gathering, and would like to reach out by text if I need support. When I feel overwhelmed, it is most helpful to have someone simply validate how I am feeling so I know I am not crazy.”
Take Breaks. Set a reminder for when you expect you will need breaks.
TIP: Breaks can include excusing yourself to use the restroom, going outside for a walk or reaching out to a supportive person, as well as time to be alone to reflect on what your needs are.
Identify resources that are useful to you. Please see below list for supports and resources that we find helpful here at the Rape Recovery Center.
These are some articles we found helpful as we also navigate this time of year
People of Color Tool Kit: https://icrace.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/icrace-toolkit-for-poc.pdf
Mindfulness Guided Meditation from Tara Brach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3TrGysWETw
Icarus Project Crisis Tool Kit: https://theicarusproject.net/welcome-to-the-crisis-toolkit/
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.