A chill in the air, shorter daylight hours, and time spent with family are all staples of the winter season. As you watch leaves fall from trees, unpack sweaters, and put on your favorite pair of boots, you can feel the obvious shift from fall to winter. With winter comes the holidays. There’s something about the holidays that brings us all back to the past, especially childhood years. This year, like most, the holidays are heavy with nostalgia, expectations, and triggers. Throughout the year, you experience inevitable stress, but stress levels can elevate during the holidays. Instead of avoiding the holiday season, you can start a new tradition by celebrating the wonder of the Winter Solstice.
Holiday Stress and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
December holidays include family, work, and other social obligations. People expect you to enjoy the season and can push their feelings onto you without consent. The expectation to embrace the holidays with joy is, at times, exhausting. For some, the holidays can trigger emotions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Your feelings about the holidays reveal a lot about your mental health, and you shouldn’t ignore them.
Holidays hold the potential to relive past trauma. Whether an event directly impacted you or you witnessed an event first-hand, you can develop PTSD. Traumatic events cause your brain to freeze and absorb it in detail. Examples of traumatic events are:
- Loss of a loved one
- Family issues
- Holiday traditions
Many times, you may not realize you display symptoms of PTSD. Not everyone is aware of the impact an event can have on their mind. Symptoms of PTSD last more than four weeks and affect your well-being. Some of the symptoms include:
- The urge to isolate
- Inability to focus
Holiday stress can trigger these symptoms. While you may think alcohol or drugs can help you cope, they aren’t in your best interest. Instead of seeking a short-term solution, try a long-term answer. A therapist can help you work through these symptoms.
While receiving care for mental health or a substance use disorder (SUD) at a treatment center, talk with your therapist about starting a new holiday tradition that can give you the chance to start fresh. You have the power to have a happy, healthy holiday. If you don’t want to abandon your traditions, you don’t have to. A great way to combine the past with the present is to stay healthy and replace harmful traditions with new ones.
A perfect way to embrace December and bring in winter is to celebrate the Winter Solstice.
Throughout history, cultures have celebrated December 21st. For those cultures, the winter solstice is a time of spiritual renewal, transformation, and reflection. The darkest day of the year gives way to light as daylight increases each day. Winter solstice holds a special place in many cultures. For example, the Egyptians welcomed back Ra, the Sun God, with a twelve-day celebration. The Norwegians celebrate the winter solstice with a yule log by placing a giant log in hearths to celebrate the sun’s return. The dark and light interplay can mirror the connection between mental well-being and finding healthy coping skills. Without healthy alternatives, finding inner peace and a link to your well-being can seem impossible.
Celebrating Winter Solstice
With some planning, you can begin to celebrate the holiday season with simpler, stress-free rituals that welcome the return of longer, sunnier days. During the winter solstice, the sun and the moon appear to stop moving across the sky. Celebrating the solstice is a way to remember your life is a part of something more than just you. Life is constantly changing and forever renewing. Decisions like entering a substance addiction or mental health treatment program are a part of this change and renewal.
The solstice is also a time to tune in to your mind and body. You can incorporate any solstice traditions with rituals that have personal meaning. For example, you can pick a culture that reflects your heritage and includes their solstice celebrations with something personally meaningful. Take time to reflect on how you can create inner peace. Maybe you can honor yourself by practicing mindfulness, allowing yourself to rest, relax, or take up a new hobby. Open yourself up to opportunities, listen, watch, and accept change. Some other ideas are:
- Take a walk in nature. The scents and sounds of nature can lower stress levels. But always be mindful of the weather beforehand.
- Make a wreath with evergreens.
- Light candles at night.
Find an activity that helps you reconnect with nature, light, and yourself. Self-care is an integral part of decreasing stress.
Lower temperatures, shorter days, and celebrations usher in the holiday season. December holidays hold promise and potential for happier, healthier times ahead. Also, the holidays mean increased obligations, expectations, and time spent with loved ones. The stress of these events or obligations can affect your mental well-being. Unfortunately, the season can also trigger emotions like post-traumatic stress disorder. Not everyone holds onto happy memories of the holidays. You may have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event associated with the winter holidays. Through substance addiction treatment at Alta Centers, you can learn healthy coping skills to alleviate past trauma. Our location in the Hollywood Hills, close to the heart of Los Angeles, mixes serenity, privacy, and individualized treatment to ensure your treatment addresses your needs. Alta Centers combines comprehensive care so you can focus on your recovery without distractions. We believe you can live a successful life without alcohol or drugs. Contact us at (888) 202-2583.