The holidays are usually such a great time of year, but for some, this season might be difficult, especially after the year we’ve had. There are a lot of people out there (and in our Gateway community) who are dreading the smell of peppermint mocha lattes and sound of jingle bells because it means facing a season of painful memories. Memories that remind them of a person, place, or time that’s no longer around.
For those who have experienced a loss, whether it’s the death of a family member or major life-change, the holidays may not be the most wonderful time of the year. If this is you, we’re so sorry. Even though it may be hard to picture, there is hope. To help you through this season, we’ve provided some practical tips that we pray encourage you.
10 Practical Tips for Surviving the Holidays
- Prepare—The ambush of emotions can attack at any time; prepare beforehand and be kind to yourself. It’s okay to take a moment to pause and gather your emotions before resuming an activity.
- Accept—Experiencing difficulty at this time of year is real. Don’t try to push it down or act like it doesn’t matter. Remind yourself that it’s a season, and this difficulty will wane.
- Socialize—Don’t hibernate. Loss can make you feel extremely lonely; sad feelings or an unexpected quarantine time may tempt you to isolate yourself, but find some kind company and force yourself to be social, even if it’s only for a short time. Perhaps invite a friend over for dinner or schedule a Zoom hangout to catch up or play a game.
- Manage—Keep a realistic leash on your expectations for this season. We all know this year is different. Movies, songs, and even romanticized memories can paint an unrealistic picture of the holidays and leave you feeling even worse.
- Don’t Anesthetize—Numbing emotional distress with drugs, alcohol, or sweets creates more depression and can potentially promote an unhealthy addiction.
- Trimming—If old Christmas ornaments or holiday trimmings cause too much pain, don’t hang them this year. In addition, if certain traditions or outings do the same, consider mixing things up and doing something different. The departure from the norm can make things more bearable.
- Get Up and Move—Take care of your physical well-being. Healthy foods will give you strength; fattening and sugar-filled foods can worsen your depression. Exercise and sunshine produce natural stress reducers.
- On Call—Have the phone number of your counselor, pastor, church, close friend, or hotline favorited on your phone. Make the commitment to call someone if negative or depressing thoughts get fierce.
- Set Boundaries—Explain to your family and friends what you are capable of doing this year and what you aren’t. Don’t let others guilt you into taking on more than you can handle. Again, be kind to yourself.
- Reach Out—Chances are there are other people who are alone and struggling during the holidays too. If you feel able, reach out to them and see if you can tackle the season together.
If you need prayer during this season, text PRAYER to 71010 and one our staff members will connect with you.