Mindful Holiday Season
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The holiday season can be rough — memories resurface, expectations and stress of seeing family you may not be close with, traveling with a sensory child who gets thrown off schedule … The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, and yet it can easily turn into a season full of anxiety, triggers, and pain.
Today, I’m bringing you five resources to help give you a more mindful holiday season.
But first, what is being mindful? Merriam-Webster defines it as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”. So to have a mindful holiday season, it means you are being aware of what triggers or emotions you may experience, or your children may be going through. It means taking care to stand up for yourself if you feel unable to meet all the expectations of anyone you may be spending the holiday season with.
TRAUMA PROOFING YOUR KIDS
I’ve talked before about the book Trauma-Proofing Your Kids by Peter Levine. This book has been phenomenal for me to better understand how my brain works, and how my kid’s brains work when it comes to possibly traumatic events. Traumatic events don’t have to be witnessing a car accident, being assaulted, or being bullied.
What is trauma?
Trauma is the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel the full range of emotions and experiences. (integratedlistening.com)
My therapist explained it to me this way — when something happens to a person, the brain creates two stamps of the event. One is the memory of what happened, the second is the time stamp of it ending. When trauma occurs, the brain does not stamp the end of the memory. Therefore, the person continues experiencing effects of the trauma until the brain is told it has ended.
Not everyone reacts to trauma the same way either. Some people have what seems to be ingrained resilience — they are able to have an event happen to them and their brain processes it, ends it, and they move on. However, some people struggle with the portion of their brain ending that memory, whether it is of a dog attacking them, their parent being neglectful, or a sensory child whose world has been turned upside down because family came into town to visit, or the child’s family traveled for the holidays.
This book, Trauma Proofing Your Kids, was exceptional in offering scenarios that parents and caregivers can use to help their child resolve traumatic events and allow their brain to move on. The tips in this book work just as well for parents, because as the author says, you must first consider your own feelings in the moment (of a tantrum, freakout etc), before you can help someone around you.