5 Ways to Help Your Grinch Navigate the Holidays

5 Ways to Help Your Grinch Navigate the Holidays

The holiday season is supposed to be joyful, but we all know the stress that can come along with finding the right gifts, hosting gatherings, managing blended families that include significant others, spouses, ex-spouses, in-laws and maybe even former in-laws that are, after all, grandparents, and trying to please everyone which is virtually impossible.

Add to all that the emotionally charged memories this time of year brings when important people with whom we used to share holidays are no longer with us. Financial concerns can become more prominent too when we want the holiday gifts and celebrations to meet expectations. And finally the shorter days and less daylight have an adverse effect on many people. Those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can experience some extreme symptoms. Even for people who don’t suffer from clinical depression, this time of year can be very difficult (read more about Holiday Depression: Statistics & How to Deal from Healthline).

I have been accused at times of not liking the holidays. That is not really accurate. I learned years ago how to navigate the last six weeks of the year in the least stressful way possible. Of course that was many years before losing my parents and aunt and uncle with whom I shared holidays all of my life. That was before my cancer diagnosis (read more about cancer & depression) which made me appreciate my own mortality, and my husband’s suicide that ended holiday celebrations as I had known them for over 20 years. And still, I found ways to make the most of the holidays. Although, admittedly I have my moments of despair.

I really try. I start listening to Christmas music when I’m in the car by myself as soon as SiriusXM Holly goes live. I put up the decorations Thanksgiving weekend and even gave in last year when my daughter wanted them up earlier. I attend parties and I’ve throw parties. What I’ve also done for many of the Christmases since my husband died is go away for the week that encompasses Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and his birthday. That’s what worked for us. Being in Chicago is now a permanent escape of sorts, although the holidays can still be difficult emotionally.

The one gift all of this has brought me is a new sense of empathy. While I can at times wallow in the holidays can be difficult self-pity, I can also appreciate that everyone is also dealing with a whole myriad of things that can make the holidays challenging. For people with clinical depression, this extremely difficult month can be even more arduous. If you know anyone who suffers from depression or anxiety or may be grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season, reach out. Don’t let people be lonely. Look for ways to share the holidays in a way that is comfortable for them.

If you are dealing with grief and loss this holiday season, read my 7 Ways to Survive the Holidays after loss. If you are dealing with someone close to you that may seem like your own Grinch, pleased don’t judge. They may be fighting an internal battle of which you are not aware. Instead, I offer you this:

1. Recognize that for some, the holidays can be extremely difficult, and bring on enormous sadness.

2. Understand these feelings are real and like depression at any time of the year, can’t be willed away.

3. Help your friends and loved ones avoid social isolation. If big celebrations are overwhelming for them, find other smaller ways you can socialize and stay connected.

4. Don’t pressure them to do things they find uncomfortable, but do encourage self-care (meditation, massage, exercise) to cope with stress, and to seek professional assistance (therapist, doctor) if needed. And of course, if someone is suicidal (there’s no harm in asking them if they are!) contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), or call 9-1-1. Do not leave them alone.

5. Be present for them, let them talk. Don’t feel you need to solve their problems (you can’t); just listen, and make sure they know you care.

Here’s to making the best of the holiday season for everyone including the Grinch!

GPTempDownload

 

How do we talk about suicide?

How do we talk about suicide?

This week marks National Suicide Prevention Week and Tuesday, September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day.  Since I started this blog as part of my healing after my husband’s suicide, I have made it a point to acknowledge this week every year. Last year’s post provides links to the others as well as wealth of resources.

Suicide is a difficult subject. It was difficult for me to navigate in the hours, days and weeks that followed my husband’s suicide almost five years ago. It was difficult for us to tell others; it was somehow different than telling people he had died of cancer or a sudden heart attack or in an accident. But why? Because of stigma around mental illness for sure. But seriously, why? Read more

Waiting on Mental Healthcare

Waiting on Mental Healthcare

This is the “to be continued” from my April 22 post, “An explanation, not an excuse” as well as the rant about health insurance that I also promised in that post. 

 

Running in Circles and Getting Nowhere (TheCauseCoach, October 2018) outlines the beginning of my health insurance issues since I moved out here. My “low-income” due to minimal effort in building my business in New Jersey as I was preparing for my move last summer (and totally disregarding any income from the sale of my home) left me eligible only for Illinois Medicaid.  I thought I should just be able to “transfer” my health insurance purchased through the ACA from NJ to IL; that can’t be done apparently. Read more

Running, dopamine, and surviving winter

Running, dopamine, and surviving winter

March was the month we were all supposed to finally commit to our New Year’s resolutions. How are you doing with that? I will be the first to admit, not so well. I will actually admit to running just a little over 2 miles in the entire past month. What’s going on? Read more

3 Reasons to Run a Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving

3 Reasons to Run a Turkey Trot this Thanksgiving

Running a “Turkey Trot” – that is road race on Thanksgiving morning – has become a tradition that started for me 10 years ago. While there were a couple years in there where injury or family plans prevented me from doing so, I’ve really come to feel that it’s not Thanksgiving if I don’t start the day running. Read more