- Nancy Blume, MA Licensed Psychologist
Sensing Holiday Triggers?
Holidays are often trigger times for folks who have experienced trauma and or grief. They are reference points in time when we remember and experience the loss of those that we love, or the hurt, fear and pain that we may have experienced from those we thought we could trust.
As we experience these triggers, we are often experiencing them in our minds, bodies and spirit, as in Bessel Van Der Kolk’ s famous book title “The Body Keeps Score”.
Here are some ideas of things to help us work with triggers and our nervous systems during this time.
Breathe with awareness, slow, deep breaths can help our systems calm down. Short breathes can help our body wake up if we are feeling depressed or numb. Pay attention to the difference in temperature between your breath in and out breath. The nice thing about our breath is that it is with us wherever we go so that we can breathe mindfully when we are around those people or times that stress us!
Remember “Jesus breathed on them”. Pause and feel the breath/spirit of God surrounding you!
We also take our face with us wherever we go! I have heard that we have more nerve endings in our face that go to our brain then any other part of our body! SOOO, slowly relax the muscles in your forehead, eyes, cheeks, jaw, tongue. Then slowly turn the edges of your mouth up into a half smile, like the Mona Lisa!
If you are with others the bathroom can be your favorite place!! Go in and splash very cold water on your face! Then bend over and touch your toes. Relax your face as you walk out into the room!!
If this is a time a grief, remember your loved one with a special candle, place at the table, prayer, time of reflection of their love and how their spirit is still with you. Let the tears flow, remember there are healing chemicals in those tears. Wipe your tears and move on with your day!
Try to get some movement or stretching to get the blood moving through our body. If you are feeling numb or disconnected bend over and touch your toes a few times. This gets the blood moving through your polyvagal nerve which is the part of our nervous system that numbs us and shuts us down!
Hum and sing your favorite songs! Put on music that calms or invigorates you!