2020 COVID Grief – How to Create Less Stress for the Holidays
What are your plans for this holiday season?
The holidays are among us. A time of year that’s known for its busy nature that can lead to quite the load of stress. However, this year there is a different kind of stress due to COVID. We’re unable to have large family gatherings so our connection to others and support will be limited. Many grieving may feel isolated especially if they aren’t part of a “bubble”.
Instead of having several invitations to gatherings collecting on your counter, this year it may be to connect virtually. Perhaps a long list of people you need to send holiday cards to awaits you. Then the daunting task of braving the shopping mall crowds to find the gifts for your loved ones. All of this, on top of your normal everyday life, can be overwhelming, to say the least.
Use this year as an opportunity to simplify and let go of expectations of what the holidays should be. If you celebrate Christmas and you want it to be as it always was, then ask for help? When you’re grieving a loss you may not have the energy to do everything you used to do. Please know this is normal and perfectly OK to not do what you feel you should do. Give yourself permission to revisit what you’d like your holiday to look like.
A few Ideas to Simplify
You might enjoy writing and sending cards and you could use it as an opportunity to take your mind off your grief. There are easier ways, you could consider sending electronic cards instead. Simplify your gift giving this year, draw names instead of gifts for everyone.
For some further helpful tip in navigating the holidays, you may find additional ideas here. (although written in non-COVID times, many are still applicable).
Here are some of my personal favourite ways to navigate this normally busy and stressful time of year. My hope is to make it a little less stressful for you and the season easier for you to navigate. You can still create fond memories and perhaps your new activities will stand the test of time and be ones you decide to implement again.
These secret weapons of mine include…
Put forth great effort to be present
For sure it’s difficult, I understand. It’s almost a reflex to pick up our phones and scroll through Facebook or our email when we have a free moment – do you do the same? One way I like to dodge this is to leave my electronics in another room. Don’t even allow yourself the temptation to pick up your phone and disengage from you were planning on doing. When I’m feeling particularly scatter-brained, what really helps ground me is focusing on my senses. What do I smell? What do I hear? What do I feel?
Stopping and thinking through what’s going on around you at that very moment really brings you into the present moment unlike anything else. It’s a wonderful tool to use to dial in and be present – and is a great tool to use year-round, not just during the holidays!
Often when you’re grieving you can become so disconnected by being in the past and this exercise can help you in those moments. Deep breathing is another way to connect you to yourself, breathing can also help to calm you down as it alerts your body that you’re safe. You may enjoy this short breathing meditation for those times when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Give up those expectations as I mentioned earlier
A lot of the stress we put on ourselves this season lies in the notion that we expect things to be perfect. That’d be lovely, of course. Therefore, dropping the expectations of perfection will allow you to be prepared for when something may spring up. Joy can be found in each situation. When things don’t go exactly as planned spend your energy finding gratitude in your circumstances and enjoy your time as much as possible. Tis the season to be loving and caring but perhaps extend this to yourself first by simplifying.
Find time to move
What are your favourite ways?
- How do you get some movement in during the cold months?
- What activities did you enjoy as a child?
- Do you enjoy visiting new towns or being in nature?
For me, I enjoy taking walks in nature and I’m fortunate to have many that I can take a short drive to. A good brisk walk helps clear my mind or I may take time to think about my loved ones who are no longer with me. Walking is an opportunity for me to practice mindfulness and focus just for the walk on everything my eyes see.
Coming home and having hot chocolate, cheers me up knowing I’ve burnt a few calories so I can look forward to that guilt-free!
PS I’m holding additional Grief Movement Flow hours in the New Year. You can email at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waitlist.
The benefits of grief movement help you get out of your head and stop the chatter and rumination as you move into your body. As you move back with awareness and connect to your breath and move your spine in gentle ways you begin to connect to yourself. During grief, it’s easy to tense up in a protection mode creating shallow breathing and rigidity along your spine. Through these gentle flow movements, you connect to your emotions and allow them to flow through causing your body to relax and your breath to deepen.