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    Trauma: Tips to Cope if Your Trauma Gets Triggered at a New Year’s Gathering

    Is New Year’s a dreadful time for you when you’re battling trauma triggers? While everyone else around you is announcing their resolutions for next year or planning a fun social bash, your PTSD is telling you to hide. New Year’s celebrations can be loud, with fireworks going off or people shouting with joy. These sights and sounds can trigger negative experiences you have gone through. This holiday can also be a trying time if there will be family members or toxic friends who put you down.

    Dealing with trauma sometimes means that sights or sounds can trigger memories you wish you could forget. Post-traumatic stress disorder could make you feel on edge in a “fight or flight” state if you feel threatened. If you are experiencing feelings of shame or guilt for not joining in on the fun like everyone else, you’re not alone. These are normal emotions for trauma survivors. But remember, you can still celebrate the end of the year as long as you prepare yourself. Trauma does not have to be a monster during a time when everyone deserves to be happy.

    Here are a few tips to help you cope with triggers at a New Year’s gathering.

    Keep Yourself Grounded

    One of the best things you can do to cope with trauma is practice grounding techniques. You can do this by being mindful of where you are. If you feel a trigger occurring, get in tune with your senses and tell yourself what you experience in that moment. Other ways to remind yourself could be carrying a notecard that has the date on it reminding you that you are safe.

    If you feel like you are going to zone off into a bad memory, keep your mind on any music playing or an interactive app to keep your mind busy. You can also speak to a friend or family member at the gathering as a healthy distraction. Go outside if you can to take in the fresh air. Staying present will keep you away from mentally living in the past.

    Prepare for Fireworks

    If you were in the military or went through gun violence, listening to fireworks can bring up bad memories. You may have memories of people who have gotten hurt in explosions or think you are being targeted.

    If you know there will fireworks during a New Year’s party, prepare yourself with coping tools. Bring noise-cancelling headphones with you so that the noise is not so intense.

    If you feel like the noise is completely unbearable, remove yourself from the situation. Only you know what you can handle. Your loved ones will understand if fireworks bother you and you cannot attend the party. After all, your mental health comes first.

    Set Boundaries with People

    We cannot always control who our loved ones invite at New Year’s gatherings. There may be toxic people there who worsen your mental health or have brought trauma to it in the past. These people do not have to ruin what is supposed to be a fun celebration.

    Instead of focusing your attention on people who put you in a low mood, focus on the people who make you happy. Share some laughs and funny stories to help you forget about the people you do not want to talk to. If you have to acknowledge a relative who is not nice to you, just say “hi” without having a full-blown conversation. If the people who will be at this party feel like a threat, you do not have to go. Some people are not worth the mental health issues of PTSD that can follow.

    If you are still struggling with your PTSD symptoms during New Year’s, a mental health professional can show you how to cope so you can have a happy New Year like everyone else.