Some Helpful Hints for Surviving the Holidays
The holiday season is upon us. Merry Crisis has been my attempt at managing the stress of my profession for decades. The time between Thanksgiving and the New Year has always been filled with intensity and anxiety for clients, friends and family members who are overloaded with expectations from others and themselves to participate in everything, get the perfect gifts, deal with the memories of the past difficulties with family members and their issues, or with the loss of loved ones. For many this is also a very lonely time, a time of isolation being accentuated by the knowledge that others around them are busy with gatherings with loved ones, friends and colleagues. Add the overlay of the past three years of a pandemic and a recent upsurge of COVID cases and the potential for isolation and loneliness is even higher. How do we get through this and create a positive experience of the holidays? Here are a few suggestions that may help.
Avoiding Holiday Burnout
- Set realistic expectations for yourself and others. Write them out to remind yourself of them.
- Shop online to save time and money and exposure to the collective stress of others and retail store employees who are trying their best.
- Set your goals for the week, day or hour! Write them out in Law of Attraction in Action language…first person present as if they are already happening. (I am finding Mary’s present on line today. I am deciding on the menu for the first night of Channukah or Christmas Eve…or both in some families. I am going shopping for the ingredients tomorrow (or whatever day you plan for). I am taking a break for all the activity for and hour each day this week and going for a walk, coming back and having a cup of tea. Get the idea? Then prioritize your goals.
- Pace yourself. I shared with one client this week that pacing ourselves is part of the art of living a good life, not just something we need to do this time of year.
- Avoid overcommitting yourself to activities and people.
- Delegate to people around you. Realize that you don’t have to do it all.
- Get enough rest and exercise.
- Give yourself permission to feel and make the best choices based on what feels right to you, without comparing you choices to those of others around you. Keep checking in with yourself with the question, “Is this what I want to do?” You can say “no” when people ask you to participate in things that are going to push you into exhaustion, or put you in a position that you don’t want to be in. In other words, you don’t have to please everyone else and leave yourself and your needs on the back burner. If you aren’t sure what you want to do just tell the person you need to think about it and get back to them.
Coping with Loss During the Holidays
The holidays are particularly hard when you have lost a loved one within the past two years and even harder for those who have lost that loved one close to, or on one of the upcoming holidays. If you have lost a child it is the worst loss of all. Some things that may help you get through the holidays include:
- Recognizing that grieving is a process and that the holidays trigger upsurges in the feelings of loss. Each of us grieves differently at different times, but the holidays are the hardest, because of the memories of the past and the emptiness of the present.
- Find a way to remember your loved one formally on the holiday. It might be spending some quiet time at the beginning of that day and lighting a candle in honor of that person who has passed on, or placing a flower or poem in front of the picture of your loved one.
- If you are planning a family meal cook something that was one of their favorite dishes and share memories of him or her from holidays past.
- Make a little comfort kit for yourself of special things that help you ease the pain of the loss and express love for yourself. Some items might be a favorite candle, incense, essential oils, bath salts and a favorite treat.
- If you are having trouble mobilizing yourself, get up, go outside and take a walk, or go to a yoga or a dance class.
- Make a playlist of uplifting music and listen to it,
- Make an affirmation jar. Write encouraging statements on small cards or slips of paper and put them in the jar. When you start to become anxious, sad, and feel like this grief is never going to go away pull a card from the jar and read it out loud. The statements can be things like, “It is ok to be sad”, “This grief will not last forever”, “I can get through this.” “It is ok to have a bad day.” “I am strong”, “I can have my feelings.” “I don’t have to hide them or fake them”.
- Make a list of support people
- Create an activity and support jar. Write out cards with different places you can go to help uplift your spirits, and different support people you can call or get together with. Pull a card and plan an outing to break your routine.
- Keep a gratitude journal in which you list 5 things you are grateful for each day. When you are feeling down, pick up your journal and review/remember what gifts you have in your life now.
- Join a grief group. Seek out a grief counselor, or if you already have one you are seeing try to schedule an extra appointment if you are having a rough time.
If you are needing help to get through the holidays you can reach Dr. Judith via her website email email@example.com or visit and message her through her Facebook pages