Coping with grief and loneliness this Christmas

Coping with grief and

and loneliness

 

Christmas is a season marked with, among other things, increased socialising, activity and an expectation of it being the ‘happiest time of the year’. This often does not reflect how we are feeling. If we have lost a loved one, are incapacitated through illness, or feel alone, these difficult emotions can be magnified over the Christmas period.

 

Here are some thoughts for the Christmas holidays:

 

Feel: When we hold on to emotion and push it down, we create diseases in our body such as depression and anxiety. We become stuck in our pain. Think ‘this too shall pass’.

Connection: We are relational beings that need connection for a sense of wellbeing. If you are feeling lonely this Christmas, try reaching out to others. If you are housebound, using the telephone, Internet, television or even a good book can be a way to reconnect with the outside world. If you are able, why not volunteer to help others in need, join a social group or contact a support organisation in your area.

Receive: We are often not good at accepting help. Imagine a time when you have helped someone and how good it felt being of service. Allowing others to help and support us is a gift we can give.

Ritual: If you are grieving a loss perhaps this can be a special time of positive remembrance. You might decide to begin a ritual to honour your loss, like laying a flower on the grave, lighting a candle, visiting a special place in nature or doing something that befits the relationship you had with the person. Speaking out loud to the person, reciting a poem or playing a special piece of music can play a part in this ritual, as can looking through old photographs or playing old home movies.

Prayer: Praying can be a source of comfort as it connects us to a source greater than ourselves, regardless of whether you call that God, Buddha, Nature, Source Energy or anything else.

Abstain: Remember, alcohol is a depressant. Be careful not to use it to numb feelings and in the process end up feeling worse. Instead, allow yourself to feel your feelings and they will pass.

Exercise: Getting exercise of any kind is an immediate mood booster, releasing feel-good hormones in the body which naturally help lift your mood and make coping easier.

Light: Living in the Northern Hemisphere means short, dark days at this time of year which can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for some. The lack of daylight results in low mood and sometimes feelings of depression. Anyone prone to this may want to take extra care to factor in some mood-enhancing tools, such as those listed above, and perhaps consider purchasing a ‘Light Therapy Box’ to replace some of the lost light and help the body naturally rebalance.

 

*Naomi Drury M.I.A.C.P. is a psychotherapist working from Vita House Family Centre and Roscommon Cancer Care Service and in private practice. Find her on Facebook at Naomi Drury Psychotherapy/@westofirelandtherapy or call 086-0593991