Working Through Traumatic Anniversaries

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Traumatic experiences stick with a person for a long time, even after any immediate danger has passed. These experiences can be closely tied to the time of day or year in which they happened. Feelings of one’s anxiety, depression, or overall emotional state surrounding the traumatic experience can resurface as the anniversary of one’s trauma comes around. 

These annual hurdles present a number of unique difficulties for those in recovery. It is not expected that these times will be easy to cope with. Accepting that the anniversaries of one’s trauma can be more difficult to process can help an individual prepare for the inevitable difficulty of one’s trauma anniversary.  

Expect It to Be Difficult

Traumatic anniversaries are going to be difficult to process and it is important to plan ahead for the stress and emotional turmoil involved. The anniversary of a traumatic injury, the loss of a family member or loved one, or a natural disaster can all present their struggles. The familiar time of year can put all of the focus back on the memories and difficulties of one’s trauma. 

An individual may find their thoughts more invaded by intrusive images or recollections of the event. Heightened feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, or emotional fragility may come coupled with the season. Allowing oneself to have a difficult time is essential in learning to process this traumatic time effectively. Trauma anniversaries are special events that require more focus and dedication to process than daily life. It is important to understand that one’s daily coping strategies may need to be augmented with additional support during this time. 

Expecting the day (week, or month) to be difficult also means that an individual has time to plan for the anniversary. This makes it possible to preemptively take this day off from work, ensure that any chores or responsibilities are taken care of, or take any other actions that allow the focus to be on one’s own healing, processing, and self-care. 

Set Up Your Self-Care

Setting up one’s self-care strategies ahead of time can also help to ensure that an individual has all of their options available to cope with one’s trauma anniversary. Making sure that one has supplies for art therapy, that their running shoes are ready by the door, or that one’s safe space is clean are all examples of preparing to engage with whatever self-care is needed. 

The increased feelings of depression and anxiety can cause a number of additional struggles. It can be difficult to engage in one’s own self-care practices if they are not ready ahead of time. Preparing for these times can help an individual ensure that their resources are available at any time of day. 

Gather With Supports and Family

Being alone through these traumatic anniversaries can create a number of difficulties. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed during this time if an individual does not have access to ready supports. 

Getting together with family members and trusted supports can help to address any difficult symptoms that may come up, as well as continue to provide emotional support. These people may also share a keen understanding of why this time of year is exceptionally difficult. This understanding can provide a way for a person to feel understood without having to explain or relive all of the details of one’s traumatic experience. 

Make a Day Out of It

Gathering with supports and family members can also help to turn one’s traumatic anniversary into a dedicated support day. This does not mean that one has to find a way to celebrate the anniversary, as it can commonly feel as if there is nothing to celebrate. It does mean, however, that one can dedicate time to remember, honor, or otherwise acknowledge the experience. Doing this also allows an individual to realize how far they have come in their recovery. 

For those who have lost a family member or loved one, this can be a great time of remembrance or to gather in dedicated memory of the loved one. Sharing stories of one’s experiences may be difficult, but they can also help to reframe what the day means–not as a memory of the trauma of their passing, but as an honoring of their life. 

Redefining the Anniversary

Creating new traditions surrounding one’s traumatic anniversary can help to redefine what the day means. Starting new traditions with friends, such as a cookout, movie night, game night, or having a family outing can all help to gather people in common understanding and purpose while finding support throughout this difficult time. 

Others may start traditions such as planting trees, volunteering, contributing to charity, or other ways of giving to one’s community. This can help an individual find and cherish their own progress and service during this time, further adding positive meaning to an otherwise difficult anniversary. 

The anniversary of a traumatic event is a tumultuous time and it can feel as if there is a major resurgence of difficult emotions. Anxiety, depression, and more can all become difficult to deal with. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we understand the unique struggles of these trauma anniversaries and are prepared to help you better understand and prepare for them. Our homelike atmosphere and supportive community are created to provide an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding. Your time with us can be personalized to fit your unique hurdles, needs, and goals at any time of year. Individualizing your time with us through varied therapeutic techniques allows us to continue adapting your understanding, coping strategies, and goals while navigating traumatic anniversaries. For more information on how we can help you address how trauma has affected your life or to take your first step towards a healthier future, call us today at (866) 338-6925.

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