Fireworks, thunderstorms, holiday parties with people celebrating a little too much—it’s hard to know what seemingly “normal” occurrence during the summer holidays could trigger a trauma response from someone. Our wounds don’t take summers off. This time of year is a great time to plan ahead for how you can take care of yourself and the people in your life when the nervous system gets hijacked.
If you know that you are susceptible to dysregulation from common stimuli during the summer months, prepare for mental and emotional self care. Know who you can call or text for support, and have their number programmed in—we don’t want to have our memory or coordination offline during a panic attack. Know what distractions are helpful. Having word or number puzzles on your phone can be a great way to engage the frontal cortex while the fight/flight/freeze response slows down. And most importantly, give yourself permission to take care of your needs. If you need to leave a party to take a walk, do it. If you need to wrap up in a blanket and listen to your favorite piece of music while fireworks are going off, do it. Advocate for yourself, and follow through with the care that you need.
If you suspect a friend or family member might be triggered by something happening in your shared environment, take a little extra time to check in with them. Ask how they’re doing. Sometimes we don’t know what we need in the moment, so offer simple suggestions. “Would it be helpful to get some air right now?” “Do you need some space?” “Would you like me to drive you home?” “Can I get you a glass of water?” And most importantly, make sure to let that person know that you support them no matter what experience they are having. “I see that you’re crying. Is it ok for me to sit here with you for a little while?” “I’m glad that you’re doing what you need to do to take care of yourself right now.”
We’re complex creatures, but the simplicity of compassion, gentleness, and support go a long way in keeping us down here on the ground.
If you want help beginning this work, contact me. If you know someone who needs help, give them my information. And if you find any value in this post, please share it with your friends.