What are the little things that you can do to get you through the stresses of the Holidays? Dr. Lisa May, psychologist, presented as part of the Alive in All Seasons Programming at Juniper Village at Meadville; “Holiday Blues: Managing Loss and Changing Traditions.” Her discussion focused on ways to overcome the winter blues and tricks to deal with traditions lost or changed over the years.
The holidays can be a difficult time of year. The expectation’s we build up can be much different from our current reality, or we may be grieving the loss of a loved one or a way of life that we can no longer experience. These changes feel even more dramatic around the holidays, when it seems everyone around us has family events to plan or attend, or are knee deep in their list of holiday traditions. The holiday blues can be short lived, and pass with the taking down of the decorations, or linger well into the New Year. If you find you continue to feel sad, are not enjoying yourself, have low energy, and feel uncomfortable around others well past the holidays, it may be time to talk to a professional. The most important thing to remember about this time of year is that you will survive it. As you make your way through this difficult time in life, you will grow stronger for the experience. The following are some suggestions for managing loss, and creating new traditions during this time of year.
1. Give yourself permission to just be. It’s ok to feel however you feel. There is no way that you “have” to be.
2. Be kind to yourself. Get the rest that you need. If you want to be alone, that is ok. If you want to be around others, that is ok too.
3. Accept help (and ASK for it if needed). Recognize that you are not a burden. Others get joy out of helping others. It is ok to tell people what you need – to talk, to be alone, someone to sit with you quietly.
4. Find support. If your family is unable to provide the support that you need, find it. Support group, community staff, psychologists can all be resources for you.
5. Avoid making comparisons. It’s easy to watch other couples or families and think about what they have that you do not. This will only make you feel worse. Try to think of good memories that you have had or of your loved one.
6. Remember you will survive. You may not like it, but a new day will dawn and you WILL be stronger for making it through this time.
7. When ready, incorporate a new tradition. Elements of an old tradition may be incorporated into your newly developed traditions.
Lisa May, PhD, provides psychological services at Juniper Village at Meadville twice per month. She is a Clinical Psychologist with a private practice in Erie, PA, and consults with many facilities in Mercer, Crawford and Erie County. Her office can be reached at 814-877-8013 if you are interested in services for yourself or a family member.