The holidays can be joyful and triumphant, but they can also be isolating and full of grief. It can be difficult to manage everyone’s “Holiday spirit” when you just want to hide out in your room and not talk to anyone. Psychology today had a wonderful article regarding how “not everyone enjoys the holidays.” At the end of the article there are some tips for surviving the holidays. But I wanted to give my thoughts on this as well.
Not having a loved one around this time of year can be excruciating. Songs, traditions, other family members, memories of this person can be at every turn. It is difficult to have control over avoiding some of things as well, since every store has decorations, music, and holiday cheer. Sometimes, this is when we are forced to look at our grief. We might think, “I have done a pretty good job this year processing and dealing with my grief. What is wrong with me?” That is not a fair judgment to cast on ourselves since this particular instance has not yet presented itself this year. Dealing with the holidays without that person (or pet) can be daunting, but giving ourselves grace and patience is even more important this time of year.
Making sure that we take care of ourselves should be a priority. It is difficult to manage without proper sleep, nutrition, and self-care. After we have checked that, then the grace and patience comes. If we catch ourselves being emotional about a certain reminder, acknowledge it. “This song makes me sad, why?” Sitting with the why can be a powerful motion for ourselves. Why does that song make me sad? Is it because it was grandma’s favorite holiday song? Because I remember it playing at my Uncle’s house? Because my dog would howl along with “Blue Christmas”? See if then we can notice the parts of that memory that are pleasant and manageable. If there isn’t one, then we acknowledge it and shift over to something that does feel pleasant and manageable.
Doing this “dance” so to speak, over the next few weeks will take some getting used to. But it is attainable! Keep at it and reach out to your support system if you need some extra help. Isolating this time of year is easy, but continuing to utilize good habits that you have formed this year will help weather this storm.