The Christmas period can be stressful for many, but for people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) it can be particularly challenging.

Our member Dr Justin Havens offers advice for coping over the festive period when feelings might be heightened, and our routines changed and disrupted.

Justin, who is based in Cheltenham and specialises in treating trauma, said it’s important for people to recognise their triggers, and to understand how they are affected by it and how they can manage it better.

“I talk to people about how they can create calm or safe place resources for themselves,” he said. “Imagine yourself in a place that will be calm and relaxing, and then engage all of your senses.

Calm place

“If you find your mind wandering in a certain place, try to pull it back to the calm place.

“Ultimately, if it’s not getting better see a professional therapist because you don’t have to suffer in silence.”

Justin has produced a free video to help people with PTSD with their nightmares, which is a very common symptom of trauma. Watch the video below.


“Nightmares are a reflection of the unprocessed trauma,” said Justin. “It’s normal to dream after trauma because that is our way of dealing with stuff. The nightmares are when that process has got stuck.

“The connection between my video and treating trauma is if it can try to resolve the nightmares, then that natural recovery process kicks in and PTSD symptoms can reduce.

“Sleep is fundamental. About 5% of the world’s population have regular nightmares, and that’s about 500 million people. That has a big impact on your overall health because sleep affects everything.

“Fixing sleep issues first, whether it’s insomnia or nightmares is important. They are primary indicators of health. If you mess up your sleep, it will exacerbate everything else.

“Although the video I have made may not work for everybody, it does offer some hope to try to resolve nightmares where there is little currently available.”

If you want to find a counsellor or psychotherapist who can help you with trauma or PTSD, visit our Therapist directory.