Trauma comes wrapped up in all sorts of different packages, and can be particularly apparent during the holiday season.

Christmas is not always a happy time for some. For some it can bring all the hard stuff from our lives to the surface. Painful memories, sensitivities, emotional injuries and relationship wounds can show up in different ways when we are under pressure.

For many people family is complicated, maybe there have been irreparable hurts and harms, actions and words that cannot be forgotten, maybe there are painful absences. Maybe, we still have to be in company with the people that have hurt us.

Trauma doesn’t always look like sadness.

Often it can manifest in harmful behaviours such as:

  • Drinking to excess
  • Being angry, anxious or overly emotional
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Risky behaviour like drug use or overspending
  • Oversharing or inappropriate behaviour

If you know you have some difficult interpersonal interactions ahead of you, then take the time to plan for them. Think about what you might say and do to look after yourself in those tricky conversations. Plan how you are going to regulate your emotions and maintain control of your responses so that you behave in a way that looks after you.

One simple strategy is to take a deep breath before you respond. Another is to allow yourself the time to actively practice self- care to build your resilience.

Some strategies for self-care:

  • Give your attention to the good
  • Challenge unhelpful thoughts
  • Create positive self-talk
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Rest

Rewire your thinking:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What action can I take?
  • What can I control?
  • What can I let go of?

Remember, Christmas can be tough, try to treat yourself and others with compassion and kindness – the gifts that really matter.

Need to talk?

Mental Health Line 1800 011 511
Lifeline 13 11 14
Mensline 1300 789 978
DIDs 1300 853 437
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636


Meet the Author

About Emily Dever
Emily Dever is the Workplace Wellness Manager at CHESS. She has a background in Psychology and Employment Services, is passionate about mental health and wellbeing and is a self confessed chocolate lover.