Insightful Ways to Manage Stress and Grief During the Holiday Season

The holiday season brings joy, yet it can also bring stress and heightened emotions. While there are no fixed rules for navigating holiday grief, there are strategies to help cope with the pain.

Impactful Tips to Deal with Holiday Stress and Grief
Insightful Ways to Manage Holiday Season Stress and Grief, Linda Marshall Author

Navigating the Holidays Without Loved Ones

While the holidays are typically festive, they can be lonely and emotional for some. Memories of departed loved ones may unexpectedly stir a mix of joy and sadness, which can quickly hijack our emotions. Celebrating without them is undeniably challenging. There are no set rules for overcoming holiday grief, but effective strategies can help us cope with the pain.

Strategies to Cope with Grief During the Holiday Season

  • Prepare yourself by setting reasonable expectations.

  • Allow yourself time to grieve, but make sure that you accept some invitations to socialize with others.

  • Lean into others who you are comfortable with for support. 

  • Create a new tradition honouring the loved one who has passed while keeping some of your past practices. 

  • Accept that everyone faces grief in their own way, and permit yourself and others to feel sadness, anger, and joy.

Remember, laughter makes the soul sparkle and brightens your day and those around you, so lean into that as much as possible.

Understanding That Holiday Stress Is Real

Another layer of stress to our everyday challenges occurs during the holiday season. Each of us needs an amount of stress in our lives for optimal performance. If our stress level is too high, it has a negative effect, causing intense anxiety. Conversely, if our stress level is too low, the outcome negatively impacts our attention and interest, causing boredom or depression. Our optimal stress threshold is different for all of us; we can achieve peak performance once we learn what it is. 

Five Helpful Tips To Combat Holiday Stress

Here are some ways to reduce stress every day, including the holidays:

  1. Self-care is your number one priority. It's not selfish to focus on YOU. Give yourself permission to refresh and re-energize. Making self-care a part of our daily routine and schedule reduces stress and benefits you and those around you.

  2. Practicing mindfulness during stressful times, including the holidays, will help you focus on your thoughts and emotions as they occur and those of others.

  3. Learn to read your emotions; they send critical messages. Understanding our emotions' messages is essential, especially if we want to remain in control of them. Our feelings will run high and trigger our emotions during the holidays and challenging times. Remember, the more you pay attention to your feelings and question them, the more self-aware you'll become. 

  4. Optimism and a positive mindset are vital daily, especially during the holidays. Many of us don't realize the power of our mindset. Optimism is the foundation of resilience and is pivotal to good health. When we are hopeful, we reduce stress and promote happiness. 

  5. You can exercise gratitude into joy and immediately reduce stress: gratitude and joy tremendously impact our lives. Practicing gratitude from the moment we wake up helps us focus on the good in our lives and what is working well, which keeps us positive. Most of us are hard-wired to focus on challenges or negative aspects of our lives. This attitude can create anxiety and a negative mindset, stealing our joy.

Whatever you choose to celebrate the holiday season, consider the above suggestions to cope with stress and loss during the holidays and lean into your joy.

The holidays can be a trying time of year, but if you're proactive and implement techniques to help you manage seasonal stress and grief, you'll feel empowered. We wish you the best holiday season and a prosperous new year!

This article was originally published on December 1, 2022, and has been updated (November 2023).

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