The holiday season evokes many emotions, especially for older adults who have racked up a wide array of life experiences; joy, grief and for many, physical or emotional trauma. Family gatherings, or the lack of close relations, can sometimes trigger a stress reaction that can hinder our ability to connect with others, make good decisions or show compassion. But according to a recent post on Maria Shriver’s digital home, we can begin to heal from trauma with meditative breathing and movement that helps the body shift out of an extended state of the flight or fight response.
We may not even be aware that after a traumatic event, loss of a loved one or illness, we may be frozen in a chronic state of stress in which the heart rate and blood pressure are elevated, our large muscle tense and the digestive system is dampened. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine seeks to heal the physiological and physical damage trauma causes through awareness, breathing techniques and movement. Spending time in nature and with animals can also help individuals unlock healing and embrace a more hopeful future.
Taking a break from the busyness of the holidays to go for a long walk in the woods, stop for a moment to take several deep, calming breaths or get down on the floor to play with the grandchildren can help make the holidays a time to reconnect with loved ones. This season, many people are embracing a “less is more” approach to the holidays and practicing more mindfulness and gratitude. Maybe you don’t have to buy a gift for everyone, perhaps you only bake one or two holiday cookies and do it with friends or family and hopefully, this will be the best season yet and the start of a healthier new year.
Learn more about healing after trauma in James S. Gordon M.D.’ s new book The Transformation available here.