In a recent Reflections blog, we talked about the importance of taking care of your physical self through exercise during the grief process. With the holidays now upon us, exercise is even more important because of all the delicious, rich, tasty and high caloric foods that we will enjoy over the next few months.
Equally as important over the holidays is the need to take care of our mental selves. The holidays, while mostly a time of joy and celebration, are often difficult for those who have recently lost someone. All the traditions and gatherings we enjoy are now different when someone we love dearly is no longer here.
Cheryl Jones, Chief Mindfulness Officer of The Mindful Path organization based in Connecticut, offers the following tips to help people approach the holidays with a fresh perspective and navigate the challenges that you may face over the holidays. You may find one or all of them helpful:
Tune in to your personal values.
Not necessarily the ones you were taught but rather the ones that reflect who you are now. This means speaking your truth and lovingly saying no thanks at times.
See if you can lower your expectations both of yourself and others.
Try to slow down and do less. You might notice yourself feeling more fulfilled in the moments of the season.
Acknowledge your feelings as they are without judging them.
You may notice all kinds of emotions including joy and grief. Try being patient with yourself.
You may have to deal with difficult family relationships at gatherings.
Prepare yourself in advance with meditation or exercise. Try focusing your attention on your breathing and place two feet on the ground when someone is saying something you don’t like. You might limit the amount of time you spend together.
Open to new possibilities for how you can spend time with those important to you.
You might find yourself creating a new tradition, one that reflects where you are at this point in your life.
Take care of your body so you don’t get sick.
Get out in the fresh air and sunshine. Exercise even if it’s for 5-10 minutes at a time. Eat healthy foods. Keep the alcohol and sugar intake under control. Get into bed early.