How to Cope with Fourth of July Celebrations After Experiencing Trauma

Written by: Leslie McPherson, Programs Administrator, Victim Support Services

Covid-19 has stolen our holidays, disrupted our normal routines, family gatherings and so much more. With restrictions easing and states opening back up, many are looking forward to celebrating the Fourth of July, (almost) post-pandemic.

The Fourth of July is a day of pride and celebration.  Many gather with loved ones, grill out, have neighborhood block parties, and watch firework displays.  People are eager to get back to some type of normalcy, and celebrate a holiday after being on lockdown for so long. However, it’s important to remember that the holidays can be difficult for some to celebrate, especially those that may have suffered a sudden and violent loss. For victims of violence, Independence Day can be a stressful time of the year as fireworks can sound like gun shots, which can trigger stress and emotions that may be hard to process.

Here are some things you can do to make things a little easier:

Research Firework Displays Ahead of Time Find out what festivals, parades and firework shows are being hosted near you. Preparing for and anticipating loud sounds can make the shock of those sounds easier to cope with, although you can never fully prepare for everything. For some, being able to pinpoint the source of loud sounds and flashes of light is key to reducing anxiety.

Cover your Ears Invest in noise-canceling headphones or heavy-duty earplugs. At night, these can be especially useful if rogue fireworks are going off all over your city or town. Invest in a white noise machine. Paired with headphones or earplugs, you can use these tools to get sleep at night.

Get Away if Possible Consider taking a trip. If your relatives or friends live in suburban areas, they are less likely to have fireworks going off all the time. A short sabbatical can help you recuperate.

Practice Grounding Use mindfulness tools like breathing, sitting with your back against the wall and both feet on the floor. Meditation can be helpful to some, and you can also practice keeping a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it when you find yourself having anxiety or flashbacks.

Be kind to yourself and accept your reactions You can’t always control your reactions or emotions. Don’t be so hard on yourself, It’s okay to struggle.

Focus on Self-Care Download a helpful app on your phone, watch a funny movie, take a hot bath, do something that makes you happy and smile. Laughing is good for the soul!

Reach out to your support network! You’re never alone, even when you feel alone. Somebody can help talk you through your feelings and reassure you that you’re going to be ok.

If you need any support, you may contact our Statewide Hotline at 1-888-288-9221. Our trained advocates are always available to help by texting 24/7/365 or calling between the hours of 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PST Monday-Friday, including holidays.

We hope that everyone has a safe and fun time celebrating the Fourth of July. This isn’t to deter such celebrations, but a friendly reminder that not all enjoy the holidays like others do. Take care of yourself, and each other.