Surviving the Holidays

For in the dew of little things the heart
Finds it s meaning and is refreshed.
The Prophet

Customarily, holidays are a time of joy, love, and peace. For those who have experienced a significant loss, however, the holidays can be a time of isolation, pain, and loneliness. There is a way to get through it by following some of these basic steps.

  • Emotionally Feed Yourself ~ Do what gives you comfort. This can be anything from taking a trip to getting a massage. This can be even allowing yourself to cry for a spell if you feel sad. Be true to your feelings. Forcing yourself to behave and feel in a way that you think you should OR in a way others expect, only creates resentment and is exhausting.
  • Take Care ~ Of yourself. Both emotionally and physically. Over use of alcohol or food will most certainly make you more depressed. Make sure you get enough rest, eat balanced meals, and be sure to set limits with others who may expect too much of you that you are not able to give. Exercise, take a walk or hike, start a project.
  • Change your Holiday Rituals ~ Sometimes doing the same things you did with those you have lost can be painful. Try doing some things different. Try NOT cooking, or go to a different place to celebrate this year. Even going to a different place of worship or attending at a different time can help. Start your own rituals.
  • Travel ~ For some, traveling makes the holiday much easier to tolerate. Perhaps if you live in a cold climate go to a warmer one. If you live in a warmer climate go to a cooler one. Mood follows action.
  • Stay out of Malls ~ Do your shopping through catalogs, or even through the Internet. You may want to even consider doing your shopping earlier then usual.
  • Volunteer ~ On the holiday at a homeless shelter or some other community organization. Helping others takes the focus off of yourself and helps others who need you at the same time.
  • Ask for Help ~ If you think you need it. Holidays are tough for many people, despite all the hype. Talk with those you trust or even a professional about how you feel and let it be OK. Your feelings are OK and do not have to make sense.

Theresa M. Perfetto, LCSW, practices in Northern Virginia

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