Thanksgiving is right around the corner and there are even more holidays and gatherings to “look forward to” after that. Holidays are regarded as a time for togetherness and celebration, but it also can be a time of stressful errands and perceived obligations. Family events can bring up many feelings, particularly for those who have experienced sexual violence and may not have disclosed their experience to family or if they have experienced incest.  Navigating the run-of-the-mill holiday stressors with the added layer of sexual assault trauma can make us feel like we have to choose between ourselves and our families.

Wellness is about feeling whole, safe, and seen.

We’ve pulled together a few ideas for supporting wellness this holiday season:

  • Ask yourself “Do I have to go?” Is seeing your biological or legal family something you must do?  Or is it something you feel obligated to do?   Many of us have chosen families – friends, partners, colleagues, community members – that support our wellness.  Is there a way we can incorporate them into new holiday traditions?
  • Organize an event with friends and trusted allies before or after the holidays. Although this is a busy time for many people, we may be able to set aside a dinner or potluck with people we trust to celebrate gratitude and peace.  This is also a great way to begin having something to look forward to during the winter holidays.
  • Connect with a trusted friend, partner, or family member ahead of time. This person can be your connection to wellness.  Set a time to chat, email, or text each day you will be with your family.  This is a great way to either start the day or have something to look forward to at the end of the day.  You can also call NJCASA’s 24-hour hotline to be connected with a local rape crisis center for additional support.
  • Move your body. It could be a trip around the block after dinner or in the early morning or a gentle yoga sequence before bed.  Moving our bodies relieves stress and releases feel-good hormones throughout our body.
  • Inhale.  Exhale. Repeat. People often have high expectations for the holidays or idealistic beliefs of what other people have during the holidays. Instead of comparing your situation to another, take one breath at a time in your reality.
  • Remember you are important and have the right to be and feel safe.

Check out the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s Feel Good Tumblr page for images, quotes, and videos to brighten your day.  (This one is our personal favorite!)

We welcome you to share your tips for wellness and staying safe this holiday season!