Tips for Dealing with Trauma During the Holiday Season

Gail Johnson

The holiday season can be especially difficult for folks who are grieving or who have experienced trauma. Gail Johnson has some tips for how to regain a sense of calm and perspective when a situation this holiday season confounds and overwhelms you.

 

First, pause…

Take a gentle breath in through your nose (like sniffing a flower), and let it out as softly as blowing bubbles. Repeat until you feel a change in body tension.

Second, notice the upsetting thing before you…

Mentally put it on the left side of a split screen and give it a number, indicating from 1-5 the level of distress you feel.

Third, remember something that makes you feel calm…

On the right side of your split screen, put a gentle calming event, place, person, etc., that gives you a sense of ease. Spend at least double the time thinking about what’s on that right side.

Fourth, toggle…

Think back to that left side and stay there long enough to evaluate your distress. Indicate your level of distress with a new number.

Fifth, toggle again…

Return to the calming right side of your screen and stay there long enough to get more ease.

Repeat…

Until the number on your left side goes to zero. Throughout this exercise, continue to breathe gently, calmly, and lightly, as though you were sleeping.