• Taking Care of Yourself Over the Holidays

    Posted on December 5, 2011 by Cynthia Gossman in Grieving Through the Holidays.

    Taking care of yourself over the holidays      
    By:  Cheryl Perlitz

    Why are the holidays so hard to survive when you’ve lost a loved one, gone through a divorce, or lost a job? The holidays are a time of strong emotion that focuses on family, love and tradition. When you’ve lost a loved one, or a life style, or a family unit, your traditional holidays are shattered. As a result, the holiday sights and sounds, are only a grim reminded of what you have lost.

    Try some of the following survival tips to make it easier.

    Take care of yourself
    1.  Get a massage    2.  Exercise increases the production of endorphins and enhances feelings of well being and positive attitude.  3.  Journal even when you don’t feel like it.   
    4.
     Good nutrition makes you feel fit. Over or under eating takes a toll mentally and physically.  5.  Vitamins will help you fill in the gaps.          6.  Give yourself small gifts 7.  Get up and out in the mornings and go out for breakfast, let them wait on you.   8.  Keep moving and busy without throwing yourself into a frenzy.   9.  Let your feelings out. Stuffing them makes them come out with a vengeance later.

    Simplify the holidays
    1.  Clean closets   2.  Eliminate your poisonous or negative “friends”   3.  Say no to extra things you said yes to, and shouldn’t have.  4.  Go through your files and dump the extra papers.   5. Give gifts only to those you WANT to   6.  Remember you don’t’ have to do it all.. You don’t have to bake cookies, buy for everyone, decorate the house, spend time with all relatives.  7.  UNPLUG and let others take care of you.

    Surround yourself with color and positive things
    1.  Poinsettias are bright and beautiful.  2.  Buy flowers at the grocery store for each room of your house.   3.  Buy a goldfish.  4.  Rearrange your furniture.  5.  Find a great CD and play it as loud as it goes.  6.  Boil orange slices, cloves and apple juice, to make you surroundings pleasant.

    Surround yourself with people and activity
    1.  Call your treasured friends and tell them you will need help over the holidays.  2.  Try grief groups and church groups.  3.  Reconnect with old friends and family.  4.  Ask for hugs; give hugs.

    Honor the people who are missing from our lives during the holidays
    1.  Make list of the funny things to remember.  2.  Print and share list along with fun family pictures.         3.  Give family members a funny gift that person would have given.  4.  Do a family memory album and give it to the family as a gift.  5.  Reconnect with that person’s special friends.

    Change traditions but keep some things the same
    1.  Go to midnight church instead of noon on Christmas day or visa versa.  2.  Grab bag gift giving instead of shopping from lists.  3.  Go to movie after Christmas dinner.  4.  Give small gifts to those who have supported you.  5.  Have an open house on Christmas day and have your friends bring the food.

    Do things you’ve always wanted to do — and didn’t have time for
    1.  Test drive a red Volkswagen beetle.  2.  Paint in watercolors, even though you stink at it.  3.  Walk your neighbor’s puppy through the forest preserve.  4.  Sit at a coffee shop and read a book.  5.  Do a jigsaw puzzle.  6.  Buy yourself a doll or stuffed animal…hug it …a lot.

    Give to others
    Giving to others warms your heart, puts your life in perspective and takes the focus away from your own feelings.

    Visit and volunteer
    1.  Children’s hospital.  2.  Soup kitchen.  3.  Work with church in community.  4.  Rotary or other community group.  5.  Buy a gift in honor of the person who died and give it to a child in the hospital / a lonely person / a sick person.  6.  Give time or money to a charity in honor of that person.

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