PTSD and the Holidays

Happy Thanksgiving! Or, maybe it’s not such a happy time of year for you. The holidays can be h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e when you’re dealing with PTSD symptoms and other post-trauma issues. I remember so many years (almost 30 of them, actually) when I absolutely hated the holidays.

My top 3 fave tips for how to cope with added stress during the holidays include this excerpt from an article I once wrote:

1 – Stay in the moment; don’t think ahead. Sometimes, just the thought of Thanksgiving dinner, around all those happy people who didn’t understand my state of mind, was enough to bring on a surge of anxiety days and even weeks ahead. Keep yourself present TODAY rather than upping the anxiety ante by imagining what some future day will be like. (Actually, this is a good practice year round!)


2 – Strategize your holidays. Decide in advance who you want to see, and who you don’t; what you will do, and what you won’t; where you will go and where you won’t. Plan out your activities so that you spend the most time with people who are good for you and minimize contact with everyone else.


3 – Have an escape plan. You can’t always anticipate how you’re going to feel and who’s going to say or do what affects you. Have a backup plan so that if you need to make a quick getaway you have an out.

For a long time I stayed in that place of holiday pain. Then I went outside the healing box and decided to construct my post-trauma identity: I learned how to shift out of my Survivor Self into The Real Me, which amped up my courage, strength and focus and helped me barrel through to the end of my successful recovery. Now, the holidays are what they were intended to be: A time of fun and family connection.

Sanibel lighthouseThis year The Man and I are on a family holiday (that includes my parents, brother and sister-in-law and baby nephew) here on Sanibel Island, Florida. We’ve been having a great time biking, hiking, climbing (that’s me high up on a piece of driftwood at the lighthouse) and, of course, eating!

It’s all been really fun. One of the things I’m most grateful for is the fact that even in the face of doubt I hoped that I would heal and continued to look for ways to achieve the recovery I desired.

Another thing I’m grateful for is that you and I are connected here. Hand by hand we form a long line of survivors moving out of the darkness of the past and into the light of a present and future in which we make the shift from powerless to powerful. I’m honored to be walking this path with you.

During my recovery I felt so alone and didn’t have any sense of direction. I hope that in all the ways that you and I connect, whether it’s through email, a podcast or the Heal My PTSD forum, you know that you always have a friend in me, someone who supports your wildest recovery dreams and believes in your ability to become the person you most deeply want to be.

Constructing your post-trauma identity is one of the best and most liberating things you’ll do as you heal. It’s a place for you to discover new things, explore the unexpected and surprise yourself with your own creativity, vision and feel-good ability.

Time is running out to access over $300 in complimentary gifts. Tomorrow (until 11:59pm PST) is the final day to get your $0-cost copies of resources and trainings to help you answer the question, “Who am I now?” in a way that makes you feel strong, secure and capable.

If you’re ready to amp up the power of your process then it’s time to construct your post-trauma identity and make the shift from powerless to powerful so that you move forward in feeling better with calm, confidence and control. Check out the gifts here.


The information provided on the is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979