As Thanksgiving and Christmas draw nearer, people tend to feel an increase in their stress levels and anxiety. However, for individuals coping PTSD, these emotional reactions to seasonal changes can be particularly difficult to cope with. Our mental health clinic in Denver sees many PTSD patients on a regular basis. Over the years, we have noticed an increase in PTSD issues around the holidays as well as other seasonal events such as the start of the school year. But why does this happen? Well, it has to do with something called seasonal triggers.
How Seasonal Changes & Anniversary Dates Affect PTSD
With PTSD, individuals experience negative emotions when they are reminded of traumatic events. Sometimes these reminders, or triggers, are environmentally related but in other cases they are more related to a particular time, such as the anniversary of an event or a certain season when an event occured. For example, if a child experiences a traumatic event on the first day of school, they may feel anxiety every year after the event towards the end of summer when the school year starts.
The individual usually feels anxious leading up to the date of the event or experiences a change in an emotional state. They may feel depressed or be easily irritated. They may also experience physical reactions to the trauma, such as difficulty sleeping, illness, or cardiac events.
Ways to Cope with Seasonal Triggers & Anniversary Reactions
The following strategies can be used as ways to cope with seasonal triggers and anniversary reactions related to PTSD:
Prepare in advance.
Nearing the anniversary of a traumatic event, it’s important to prepare for the date in advance in order to make the situation and emotions as manageable as possible. Doing things like scheduling appointments with your therapist or reducing stress in your life can help you deal with triggers as they occur and find healthy outlets and ways to cope with any feelings of depression, anger, or anxiety that you may experience or make it easier to do so.
Commemorate the event.
Another strategy for coping with a traumatic event is by commemorating the event with a new positive experience. Consider donating to a charity or volunteering to replace negative memories and feelings with new, positive ones.
Practice positive self talk and affirmations.
Leading up to the anniversary of a traumatic event, it’s important to immerse oneself in positivity. Try practice positive affirmations each day nearing and following the anniversary to produce feelings of calmness and mental clarity. Remind yourself that the situation is temporary and will pass soon.
Seek help and support when needed.
It’s okay to lean on friends and loved ones when you’re feeling stressed or upset. Surrounding yourself with people you love can help you feel safer or less alone so that you’re able to cope with the situation better. Your therapist is also a good source for help and support.
Get Advice on PTSD Related Issues
PTSD is a complicated issue, and one that no one should have to face alone. If you need advice on matters related to PTSD and are a Denver resident or would like to speak to a therapist, please contact our office. We would be more than happy to assist you in anyway possible.