The holiday season conjures images of connection, celebration, and endless cheer but that’s not how it is for everyone. The season can be very sad if you’re facing loss, grief, or other challenges. If your holidays won’t be picture perfect this year, or you know someone in that situation, here are some ways to cope.
1. Anticipate ups and downs. For a start, those stirring Christmas songs can trigger feelings of sadness, reverie or loneliness, even in good times! Avoid that dripping sentimentality when you can, and opt for upbeat music or silence.
2. Put you on your “gift” list. Do what works for you. Take one day at a time and don’t over schedule yourself. Create a positive affirmation such as, “I can handle this,” repeat as needed. Don’t feel obligated to celebrate; too much “merriment” may not fit this year. Set aside time for yourself, not to be lonely, but to be solitary.
3. Accept reality. Things will feel different because they are, so don’t try to make life feel “normal.” Instead of asking “why” help yourself adjust to your new circumstances. We human beings are remarkably adaptable and resilient, even in the toughest of times. It helps to realize that you can accept “what is” without having to approve of it.
4. Focus on gratitude. Create a gratitude list and add to it as new realizations come. Keep your list handy, review it often. Read an inspirational book or buoy your spirit by volunteering; helping others can boost your gratitude.
5. If you need to, give yourself some grieving time. Keep it healthy. If you’re missing a loved one, write a letter to him or her and save or dispose of it as you see fit. Or put down in words what a loved one might say to encourage or comfort you. These are ways of tapping into your innate wisdom.
6. Attend to your mental, physical and spiritual needs. Get adequate sleep and some moderate exercise. Nurture yourself. Avoid unhealthy self-indulgences such as binge eating, drinking, or grudge shopping.
7. Try a healing ritual. Some families light a candle for their loved one in the military or one who’s deceased to signify their presence. Others buy or make a special holiday ornament or symbol. Do what works for you and yours.
Simple Action: Maintain your faith. It sounds like a cliche but time is a powerful salve. Be kind to yourself through the holidays and beyond; let time do its work.