For those dealing with loss — be it the death of a loved one or pet, divorce or unemployment — the holidays can be an especially depressing and even stressful time.
“For some, the holidays are reminder of loss and loneliness,” said Maurya Glaude, a practicing licensed clinical social worker, clinical supervisor and professor of practice at the Tulane University School of Social Work. “The idea of celebrating a holiday after losing a loved one can be a painful experience and may evoke sentiment and thoughts of past memories.
“Moreover, the idea of celebrating the holidays alone can be isolating and may evoke feelings of loneliness, especially for individuals with existing mental conditions.”
But there are ways to bring joy back into the holidays. Glaude, who holds both master’s and doctorate degrees in social work, recalls the story of a client, Natalie, who after going through several holiday seasons alone, made it her mission to move on. Among the things she did was hold a holiday decorating party with friends. “She said, ‘I am choosing to enjoy my life and live in the present.’ ”
That’s just one of the ideas that those dealing with loss can put into action to prevent, or at least minimize, the holiday blues. Here are some other tips that Glaude recommends:
- Make realistic plans to attend holiday events.
- Prioritize the important stuff, especially your self-care.
- Cherish the past and enjoy the present with optimism about the future.
- Monitor and track purchases to avoid unrealistic financial spending.
- Adjust to an indoor exercise schedule during inclement weather.
- Commit to adequate sleep.
- Monitor eating and drinking alcohol to avoid indulging.
- Commit to realistic expectations of yourself and family members.
- Pace yourself.
- Maintain work, life and personal balance.
- Volunteer and create a sense of community to reduce isolation and increase connection.
- Try something new and make new friends.