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How to Navigate Holiday Triggers By Black Therapist NYC

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

A Trauma Therapist's Guide to Grounding Your Body Around Family


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The holiday season, while often synonymous with joy and celebration, can also be a challenging time, particularly when it comes to navigating triggers within the family dynamic. As a therapist at Black Therapist NYC, I understand that family gatherings can evoke a range of emotions, from nostalgia to stress, and it's essential to prioritize your well-being. In this blog, I will share empathetic strategies to help ground your body when faced with triggers during holiday festivities.


Acknowledge Your Feelings


As you prepare to spend time with family during the holidays, it's crucial to acknowledge and validate your feelings. Whether you're anticipating holiday stress, joy, or anxiety, giving yourself permission to recognize and accept your emotions is the first step toward grounding your body. I encourage you to approach your feelings with compassion, knowing that they are valid and worthy of acknowledgment. Additionally, take a moment to journal or jot down your emotions. This simple act of writing can serve as a tangible acknowledgment, helping you gain clarity on your feelings and fostering a deeper understanding of your emotional landscape.


Practice Mindfulness


Mindfulness is a powerful tool for staying present and grounding yourself during triggering moments. Take intentional pauses to focus on your breath, the taste of your food, or the warmth of your surroundings. Mindful awareness can help create a buffer between the triggering event and your emotional response, fostering a sense of calm and presence. Additionally, integrating the practice of scanning your body for tension or stress as part of your mindfulness routine can further enhance your ability to stay grounded. This involves attentively observing and releasing any physical tightness, promoting a deeper connection between your mind and body, and contributing to an overall sense of well-being.


Establish boundaries


Setting boundaries is an act of self-care. As a Black therapist in NYC, I emphasize the importance of communicating your needs and limits to family members respectfully. Be clear about what you can and cannot handle during family interactions, whether it's the duration of the visit, specific topics of conversation, or the need for alone time. Consider introducing alternative communication methods, such as through a designated family member or a written message, to ensure your emotional well-being is prioritized and your needs are respected and supported. Setting boundaries with family during the holidays fosters a healthier and more caring environment, and creates a space for positive interactions.



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Create a Safe Spa


Identify a physical or emotional safe space where you can retreat if needed. This could be a quiet corner, a nearby park, or a few minutes alone in your room. Consider personalizing this space with comforting elements, such as soft blankets, soothing scents, or meaningful objects. Designate this area as your refuge, a place to regroup and center yourself when triggers arise. Having a pre-defined safe space not only empowers you to take control of your environment but also allows you to create a sanctuary tailored to your specific comfort and calming needs.


EMDR Therapy Added to Your Toolkit


Navigating triggers during the holiday season can be challenging, but integrating Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy into your coping strategies can provide valuable support. What is EMDR therapy, you may wonder? EMDR is an evidence-based psychotherapy approach designed to alleviate the impact of distressing memories by facilitating their adaptive reprocessing. During the holidays, where past traumas might resurface, EMDR can play a pivotal role in managing triggers. It works by engaging in bilateral stimulation, often in the form of eye movements, to help process and reframe distressing memories associated with specific triggers. By undergoing EMDR sessions, individuals can find relief from the emotional intensity linked to holiday-related triggers, fostering a more adaptive response and promoting a sense of stability and well-being. Incorporating EMDR into your holiday self-care toolkit empowers you to confront and manage triggers with resilience, allowing for a more peaceful and enjoyable festive season.


Cultivate a Support System


Reach out to friends or trusted family members who understand and empathize with your experiences. Strengthening your support system involves not only sharing your feelings but also establishing a plan for communication during challenging moments. Discuss your boundaries and comfort levels with those in your support system so they can better assist you. I emphasize the importance of surrounding yourself not only with understanding individuals but also with those who respect and actively support your emotional well-being. A well-communicated support system becomes a crucial network during challenging moments, offering a source of validation, empathy, and practical assistance.



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Practice Self-Compassion


During triggering situations, practice self-compassion by engaging in activities that bring comfort and solace. Create a self-compassion toolkit with items that provide reassurance, such as affirmations, comforting scents, or a list of positive memories. I encourage you to speak to yourself with the same kindness you would offer a friend. Incorporate self-soothing practices, like taking a warm bath or listening to calming music, to nurture yourself during challenging times. Remember that self-compassion is an ongoing process and an integral part of grounding your body and maintaining emotional resilience.


In conclusion, the holiday season can bring both joy and challenges, especially within the family dynamic. I encourage you to prioritize your emotional well-being by acknowledging your feelings, practicing mindfulness, establishing boundaries, creating a safe space, utilizing grounding techniques, cultivating a support system, and practicing self-compassion. Remember that seeking additional professional help, whether through therapy sessions or support groups, can provide valuable guidance and support during the holiday season, enhancing your resilience and fostering a deeper sense of well-being. These empathetic strategies empower you to navigate triggering moments with resilience and grace, fostering a sense of grounding and self-care during the holidays.


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