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Handling stress and grieving during the holidays

Can you hear them? Do you see them? They are coming! Those wonderful, special, endearing, stressful, pressure filled, exhausting, and expensive holidays. We love them. We hate them.

We have read all the newspapers and magazines as they tell us to delegate and make lists, to not over-plan or over-indulge, and just how to make the perfect holiday meal.

What if we don’t feel like it or want to? What if we are sad or grieving? What if we lost our job six months ago? What if there is a huge family conflict?

These are all very real scenarios that we live with every day. It’s okay to feel these things. Give yourself permission to react to the holidays honestly.

Don’t do things out of obligation or just to be nice especially if it will make you feel not nice. No, this isn’t permission to be nasty or mean to others – but honest with yourself. Let it out. Talk to someone – a close friend, counselor, or pastor. Know the difference between what you can control and cannot. 

Know that we can share stories, family history, and pictures of those we have lost with younger family members. Doing so will bring us more joy than pain. Sharing positive memories will help us heal.

Remember we can’t or shouldn’t forget the past. It makes who we are. Plan positive activities to possibly redirect or minimize family conflicts. Maybe seeing a play or movie or cooking together will be mutually enjoyable for all and decrease the chance to open old wounds and foster renewal.

Spend 1:1 time with special people in your life in simple activities. Spend time helping someone else. Spend time with God. Take the time to find a quiet spot and just breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes. Let this lead into prayer or devotion time.

Get outside and breathe in some fresh air. Look – really look at the naked trees or the sky. Be in the moment and really look at things. Connect with nature – God really has done some amazing work. He wants us to look at and enjoy them.

Just be – you don’t have to do it all or be it all.

Wishing you Peace and Blessings from the Concordia Lutheran High School Clinic,

Jayne Dwyer-Reff, RN,
School Nurse