Holiday Survival Tips for Survivors and All

Holiday Survival Tips for Survivors and All

The Holiday Season can trigger stress for us in a normal year. Amid isolation, changing traditions, and COVID-19 expectations, we all have additional needs this year. This is particularly true for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

These suggestions can help ALL of us navigate our holidays at this challenging time. 

Holiday Survival Guide

(Adapted from:

  1. Validate your feelings: In a society that insists on holiday cheer, it can feel like you’re doing something wrong if negative feelings come up. Understand that your feelings are valid and acceptable. 
  2. Practice self-care: The holidays can be very triggering for survivors for a number of reasons, which is why self-care is crucial during this time. 
  3. Set boundaries: If you don’t want to be touched in a certain way or at all, express that as soon as you feel comfortable. Don’t feel like you must invite your abuser to events, even if they are a family member. If an extended trip is too exhausting, try going for just one day. If a certain topic is off-limits, let that be known. Re-assert your boundaries as often as you need to. 
  4. Say no: Speaking of boundaries, understand that it is okay to not attend everything you’re invited to, even family celebrations. If a person or event is triggering to you or you simply do not have the energy, say no without guilt. Anyone who truly cares about you will understand.
  5. Have a plan for triggers: Minimize potential triggers in advance, if possible. If not, make a plan for how you will deal with them, such as deep breathing, journaling, taking a walk, or exiting the situation. 
  6. Find allies: If you have a supportive family member, talk to them about your concerns and how they can support you. If not, see if you can arrange to have a friend or pet with you. Another option is to have a friend or your therapist on standby who you can call if you become overwhelmed by your triggers. 
  7. Avoid overstimulation: Even people who aren’t survivors can find the holidays overstimulating. If you are constantly feeling irritated or overwhelmed, you may need to find a dark, quiet space to recuperate, listen to calming music or sounds in headphones. 
  8. Don’t neglect your physical health: Be careful not to overindulge in food or substances or slip into disordered eating during this time. 
    • Ensure that you get enough sleep. 
    • Try to work in regular exercise.
    • Journal: Expressive writing can be very healing. Continue to write each day, noting how your thoughts and feelings change. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing interpersonal violence, Bridges has advocates who can help. All of our services are free and confidential. 

Call Bridges on our 24-hour Support Line at 603-883-3044, or visit to chat online M-F 8:30a-4:30p. 

Remember…You don’t need to be in crisis to call. You are not alone.