Friends, this is a “Special Holiday Edition,” bear with me at this edition is a little longer than most, I find that sometimes holidays can be challenging and wanted to address some of those challenges. Holiday months come with a mixed bag of emotions. For many, days like Valentine’s Day have no emotional significance, those people will simply ignore the day and go on. For others the day is filled with happy anticipation, and still others holidays like this are filled with overwhelming emotions. If you are in that last category, please know you are not alone. Our society does not talk about this enough, but often times holidays are emotional and depressing, but remember you are not alone. Whatever holiday it is that gives you grief, you are not alone. And the best part is that you can feel better, I hope this article helps guide you in that direction.
February has long been considered a month of love. At exactly the half way point, well for 3 out of 4 years anyway it is exactly the half way point, we celebrate Valentine’s Day. For that day, as with many other holidays, we will we celebrate the day with some of the significant people in our lives. I know it looks different this year, and I wish that were not the case, but life is what it is and Valentine’s Day, like so many other days looks different. Usually school children make really creative mailboxes and valentines for their classmates, parents frequently make purchases for their children, and many will treat their significant other by taking them out to eat, or bring them chocolates, flowers, and gifts. Awe…. what a nice day to celebrate love. But for some it’s not. What did you say? I said that for some Valentine’s Day is not the wonderful day full of love, hugs and kisses. For some, it’s a day of grief, sadness, and frustrations. Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and birthdays, for some these holidays are overwhelming.
So many people are quietly suffering on days like this–days that society considers to be celebratory. Individuals who are grieving the death of someone do not easily embrace days like this. Likewise for those who are estranged from someone important to them. That may be a spouse, child, parent, or old friend. Whoever it is, it hurts. Holidays are often difficult days for individuals and yet, it is a holiday so there is pressure to fake happiness and not discuss grief with others. Let’s be real, no one really wants to be around a gloomy Gus on a holiday right? Wrong! When you have loss, you also have others that want to share in that journey with you, you are not alone. And you can feel better, it may be slow and it may take a while, but you can feel better.
Holiday Self-Care Plan
“But I feel alone, Cindy, I feel alone.” I hear you, and so will the others around you. The reality is that when I say people care, people do. They may not know what to say or do, but they do care. But what can you do; what can you do to feel better? I am so glad you asked, because I do have some ideas for you. It is not enough to say “feel better”, frequently feeling better takes action. So here are some ideas for you when holidays like this arrive and are more than you can take emotionally:
- Know that feeling is ok. It is ok to be sad, it is ok to feel alone, it is ok to be angry, it is ok to cry. It is ok to feel. But also know that we all need skills and strategies to help work towards feeling better. Being healthy and feeling good is the goal.
- Plan an activity for yourself. How about something special you would enjoy doing for yourself or with a couple of friends? You like music? Then plan a trip to a music store and see some instruments, maybe go buy a new CD, or find an online concert. Personally, when I am at a loss I like to go to one of those little stores where you paint ceramics. It’s not usually something I do and it’s a treat for me, so it gets my mind off of things. Sometimes just walking in the mall feels good, when it’s warmer, I prefer walking in the park or even on the neighborhood streets. I like to take pictures, I think of it as art and I like to try new concepts. Even coloring feels good. So does reading a good book. It takes my mind off of things when life is overwhelming, and it feels good to create something.
- If you want to eat out for the holiday, might I suggest not going to those date night restaurants on the 14th. If there is a place that you enjoy but causes sadness when you go there, maybe skip that place on the day in question, you can always go back later when your feelings are not quiet so intense.
- Phone a friend! You know the phrase, call a friend as a lifeline. If that friend does not answer, call another friend. Keep it up until one does. Talk to a person, even if you do not want to talk about your sadness. Just talking is helpful.
- Physical activity is good. It is good for a daily activity, but it is also good for times like this. Go for a walk, find a treadmill, go for a swim. Let your body heal itself, let your mind and your body gain strength from the endorphins that are released when you exercise. True story, I don’t understand all of the science of this, but I know that it works. Try it out.
- Grab a notebook and a pen and begin to journal your thoughts. Sometimes you feel like you cannot share your thoughts with others, but you can always share them with yourself. Writing to your self sometimes helps you figure out exactly what it is you feel.
- Create a plan… and put it into play. Chose some things that will help you feel better and begin those steps. Sometimes in life one of those steps is to consider counseling, sometimes even medication, but all of the time one of steps is taking care of you. Self care is important, create a plan to take care of yourself.
Always, Always, Always… Take Care of You!
You matter! I matter! We all matter! Seriously, we all matter and that means we have to take care of ourselves. There are times in life when we feel unable to maintain self care, when we are too sad, too tired, too depressed, too overwhelmed, or too frustrated. Those are the times we call on others to help us. It is ok to ask for help, trust me, this one I know, I have asked many times. Sometimes it’s a friend over the phone from miles away, other times it’s a meal with my parents, or dinner with my husband, a drive with one of the kids, bending the ear of a colleague at work, or even the neighbor who doesn’t even know how significant it was that they listened to me talking about my dogs. It feels good to not feel alone, and I don’t have to tell you how alone I am, and I don’t have to talk to you about my intense grief or feeling of helplessness or failure. But if I start a conversation and I feel less alone, I begin, for that moment to feel better. And the next day I do the same thing and the next day and the next. Create a plan to take care of you. Use some of my ideas, add in some things that you do, but create a plan. Write it down, sometimes when life is a lot writing it down and having a checklist is helpful. As February winds to a close know that you are not alone, in a world full of people we do not have to be alone. Find joy in the day and in the month regardless of who you spend the holidays with and call someone and keep calling someone until someone listens. You are worth it, take care of you. Thank you for hanging out with me today!