How to Cope with Grief During the Holidays
The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration for many. But for others, the holidays can be a time of grief, pain, and sadness. Be it the memories of departed loved ones or the reminders of estrangement and strained relationships, the holidays can be anything but merry for those struggling with feelings of grief and loneliness.
If you’re struggling with grief this holiday season, know first and foremost you’re not alone — this is a battle shared by many across the world. To manage these emotions and try to have a happy holiday season, try some of the following strategies:
Stay grounded with your plans — Keep your holiday planning realistic. Don’t feel like you must shoot for the best holiday ever. Keep your expectations grounded and avoid feelings of disappointment that may come when you don’t achieve everything you wanted.
Know your limits — Don’t feel like you have to say “yes” to every request. Set boundaries for yourself and for others. If you feel like you’re being asked to do too much, know it’s OK to ask for help or to simply say “no.”
Prioritize — What activities or traditions are most important to you? Make a list of the holiday traditions that mean the most to you, and if possible, work your way down the list from most important to least important.
Volunteer — You’ve probably heard the expression, “It’s better to give than to receive.” That adage applies just as well to your time, as well as your gifts. Volunteering your time to brighten someone else’s holiday can make a tremendous impact on your own.
Make positive lifestyle choices — Stay on top of your mental and physical wellbeing by making positive choices in your day-to-day life. Regular physical activity can greatly impact your mental health, as well as your physical health. Limit your drinking as alcohol can exacerbate negative emotions. Get plenty of sleep.
Make time for yourself — Between periods of making plans with others, set aside some time for yourself. Whether it’s reading a book, watching TV, going for a run, or practicing yoga, carve some “me time” out of your schedule.
Spend time with people you love — Feelings of loneliness are common among those grieving around the holidays. But the truth is there are numerous people who love and care for you deeply. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members or call or visit a close friend.