It’s that time of year again – time for Christmas trees, Jingle Bells, Elf On The Shelf, presents, yummy food and spending time with family and friends. It’s a time to get closer with or to reconnect with God.
But what if this time of year brings sadness instead of joy? For many people the holidays isn’t a reminder of joy but a reminder of loss. The holidays can bring into sharp focus what you don’t have – the loved one who passed away, the loss of a parent or child, your failed marriage or your own failings as a person.
We get the message that we’re all supposed to be wearing elf hats and singing Jingle Bells while happily spending money at the store. Sometimes it’s like that. Many times the reality looks a bit different. Sometimes Christmas is spent in a hospital room or at a funeral. Sometimes it’s spent all alone in a rest home or hospice. Sometimes Christmas is spent alone in a hotel room or cheap apartment while your family is somewhere else.
For those of us lucky enough to be with our families and to enjoy good health, it’s still a stressful time. Grumpy drivers, long lines and worries about the credit card bills coming due in January make it hard to be cheerful. Over-committing to parties and events – juggling everything you already do with 27 more things to do – Yikes!
Here’s a few tips to help you through this time:
- Be good to yourself. Nobody can do it all, so don’t try. Do what you can and give yourself permission to say no when you need to.
- Rest when you’re tired. Don’t try to do “just one more thing” first.
- Give yourself permission to be who you are and where you are right now. Extend grace to yourself. Do your best, and let it be good enough.
- Go to a good, biblical based church and make an effort to get connected.
- Volunteer – C. S. Lewis wrote that true humility is not thinking less of oneself, it’s thinking of oneself less. If you’re volunteering and helping those less fortunate, it helps put your mess in perspective.
- Attend social activities. It you tend to want to isolate yourself, don’t do it. Get out there! Be around the annoyingly cheerful happy holiday people – they might make you feel better!
- Exercise! Get up off the couch and go for a walk. Go to a park, even if you don’t have a kid or a dog. Go to the beach. Yes, bundle up, but still get out there in God’s beauty and soak it up.
- Get back into your hobby or try out some new ones. Bake, make silly Christmas crafts, pick up that instrument you’ve been meaning to try out and watch YouTube lessons. Challenge yourself.
- Borrow a dog or a cat if you don’t have one. Animals are very therapeutic, so hang out and cuddle with a furry pal.
- Don’t wallow. A pity party is a lonely place to be and nobody wants to come and bring you presents. Get up and get moving.
- If you’re struggling, it’s okay. You are not alone. If you need help, please consider reaching out to a professional like myself.
This article is not meant to provide clinical, therapeutic or legal advice. This is not a substitute for professional therapeutic help. If you’re in need of professional help, please contact a professional. This is offered as educational information only.