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10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays After A Narcissist’s Discard

The holiday time can be difficult, especially if you have recently been “discarded” by a narcissistic romantic partner. Narcissistic abuse recovery most definitely is multi-layered and long-term, punctuated with emotional rawness and resurgences of traumatic grief at milestone times (like holidays and anniversaries, birthdays, etc). There are self care strategies survivors can engage in to ramp up efforts at recovery and healing during the holidays.

1) The most painful part for many survivors of narcissistic abuse is the initial breaking of the trauma bond once going No Contact. That process can feel like getting off a bad drug, but keep in mind the most difficult part is a temporary pain.  If you are recently No Contact/Limited Contact (or perhaps you were discarded by) with a narcissistic romantic partner/family member/friend, expect that you will be stinging for a bit, but in time the pain lessens and so does the cognitive dissonance. 
2) See a strengths-focused and trauma-informed therapist Connect with a licensed helping professional who understands how to treat trauma, loss, depression, anxiety and from a strengths-focused, trauma-informed approach. We are out there. We exist. And we are honored to help you. In fact, we consider it a passion and a calling to bear witness and help other people heal.
3)  Take breaks in nature. Hiking is incredibly restorative. Find a path in the mountains, by the sea, in the desert, by a lake or stream. Wherever nature is for you, find it. Breathe it in. Listen to the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves, the birds singing, a mountain stream babbling, crickets chirping. Studies show that hiking in nature particularly is good for mental health and releasing trauma (Netburn, 2015). Many of my clients are helped by trauma-informed yoga.

4) Take action  Volunteer. Contribute to a cause. Join an organization that supports your passions. Problem solving helps to reduce stress significantly, especially if you break it down into chunks like facing the challenge, clarifying concerns, and then creating and executing a plan of action (Heitler, S., 2017). Helping others in need also helps put things in perspective. Perhaps volunteer to serve a holiday meal, deliver recycled items to a homeless shelter, bake for an organization that you believe in.



5) Find solace in safe community  Any specialist in the trauma community knows it is well documented that safe community and social support is vital to trauma recovery. It goes without saying that if you have blooms in your garden of support, you have solid people who have your back during life’s challenging times. Likewise, don’t be afraid to pull some weeds if you have some toxic growth in that garden of social support. (Check out some online forums which may have support groups as well as in person trauma-informed therapists at Traci Malone’s


6)  Spiritual connection This may be in a temple, church, mosque, nature, or your own home. Connect with your Spiritual Self to assist in the transcendence of challenging times. Whether solitary or communal, tapping into spirituality is an essential component in the healing journey.


7) Meditate Mindfulness meditation shows benefits for lowering stress in many studies and is highly recommended by most traumatologists as well as helping professionals (van der Kolk, 2015). You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to practice meditation, but implementing even 10 minutes/day to breathe and clear out the mind chatter has benefits. Explore low cost or free apps with meditation chimes and timers.


8 ) Rest Fairly self-explanatory but hard to do in a face-paced, pressured world. However, absolutely necessary. Allowing your body to go into a state of deep relaxation with an afternoon nap (or resting with no specific productivity in mind or motion) allows the body and mind t0 synthesize life on all levels and top off energy reserves for the day or week ahead. Be OK with saying NO to any commitments that are not positively contributing to your physical/mental/spiritual/social health. Absolutely keep up with No Contact/Limited Contact with your ex abuser.


9)  Create Expressive arts are also proven to release held tension and help practitioners achieve a sense of meditative calm. Check out world renown art therapist Cathy Malchiodi’s helpful trauma-informed work at :


10) Nourish your body/mind/spirit Select nutritious food, hydrate, exercise moderately, and get good sleep. These three pillars of health are essential for a rested and recharged mind/body/spirit. If you are having difficulty with these basic foundational components of self care, see a holistic health practitioner to advise regarding supplements, diet, sleep hygiene, and gentle exercise (like yoga, hiking, walking, etc.)



Retrieved from: (Malone, 2018):

Retrieved from: (Malchiodi, C, 2018):

Retrieved from: (Netburn, 2015):

Retrieved from: (Schneider, 2017):

van der Kolk, (2015). The body keeps the score: brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma, Penguin Books.

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays After A Narcissist’s Discard

Andrea Schneider, MSW, LCSW

Andrea Schneider, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Los Angeles, CA. She provides psychotherapy for individuals experiencing trauma and loss (ranging from women's reproductive mental health to recovery from toxic relationships in love/work/family, from special needs parenting to grief work). She is also a writer, educator, and podcaster. Website:

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APA Reference
Schneider, A. (2018). 10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays After A Narcissist’s Discard. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Dec 2018
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