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Operational Stress Injury and Christmas Time!

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Christmas and OSI's like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex PTSD do not go together well. Combine that with it being winter and Seasonal Affective Disorder comes along to exacerbate the symptoms, and you have a serious potential for negative consequences on decision-making influenced by sadness, grief, and anger. OSI tends to cause people to cover their true feelings of anxiety and depression by showing a happy face. For those dealing with PTSD, Christmas becomes a painful period with the stress of working to cover up their pain and look 'normal'. The result when covering up feelings that isn't successful can be tears, rage, shame, fear, guilt, and panic.

To deal with the Christmas season, you need to have the tools to plan out your strategy:

Choose What You’ll Do

Give yourself a sense of balance and control by making a plan, choose what you want to do or need to do then choose how long you have to or intend to be in that place.

Create an Exit Strategy

Not everything goes according to plan, and so you need a plan for before panic sets in. To stay calm and keep your mind at ease, having an exit strategy for when you have a panic attack or need a moment to breathe and calm down can help keep your calm.

It’s not your job to keep everyone else happy

To manage your PTSD with some effectiveness, remember that you need to develop a limit on your interactions and activities. You cannot keep everyone happy and so saying no and avoiding places and events that will set back your healing is not a bad thing.

Be Realistic

One person cannot attend every Christmas event over the holidays and should not be expected to. If you are getting overwhelmed, put yourself first and pull back on some commitments. You need self-compassion and need to take care of yourself.

Get Some Alone Time

Spending time alone isn't always just about avoiding stress, sometimes it is that time alone that can give you the energy to exist each day. Schedule time to be by yourself if your Christmas schedule is busy.

Don’t Think Ahead

Thinking about an event can add to the anxiety in one's mind, stick to thinking about one thing at a time as much as possible and one can have that much more of a chance at a peaceful mind this Christmas.

We at OSI-CAN do not see PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Disorder, we see it as an Injury you can recover from. If you are suffering from the symptoms of an Occupational or Operational Stress Injury, then a PTSD or PTSI diagnosis is not required to get our help!

OSI-CAN is a named project of the Canadian Mental Health Association SK Division. OSI-CAN is a free confidential, community based peer support initiative for currently serving and former military members, first responders, public safety personnel and their families. For more information, visit You can also contact us at 306-552-3801 or toll free 888-495-6068

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