Self Care and Mental Health This Holiday Season

The holiday season can be an exciting time to gather together with family and friends, but it can also be a stressful time of year for many survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones. Self care is important year-round, but especially during the holiday season, when some survivors experience anxiety, fear, stress, tension, pressure, or fatigue.

With the holidays often comes invitations for social events, and it’s common to feel pressured to attend. “Remember that not all invitations need to be accepted, and it’s always okay to say no if you don’t feel comfortable being at a certain location or around a particular crowd,” says Keeli Sorensen, vice president of victim services. “You are in control of how you spend your time, and if you feel that taking time and space for yourself would be more helpful for your self care and healing, then that’s what’s most important.”

Having a self care plan in place can be a helpful strategy for managing emotions that become stressful or cause difficult memories to resurface during family gatherings, parties, or holiday travel. Thinking ahead about the self-care options available in these moments may help individuals feel more safe, comfortable, and prepared.

Self care is about learning which activities help individuals feel healthy and comfortable, and this will look different for everyone. For some, it might be taking a walk, deep breathing, or listening to music. Others might find it helpful to talk to someone they trust or write their thoughts down in a journal.

“During the holidays, many people become so busy caring for others that it can be hard to take time to care for themselves. It’s important to remember that caring for yourself first can be a great first step to caring for others,” says Sorensen.

RAINN’s hotline staff will be working through the holidays and is ready to help. For free, confidential, 24/7 support, call the National Sexual Assault hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat at or in Spanish at

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