Six Steps to Avoid Holiday Heartaches

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Avoid Kindling Grief
Christmas or Hanukkah holidays can kindle killer sorrow after loss, disappointment, or memories of missteps.  Some choose avoidance as a strategy to handle grief during holidays, but our brains hold a far better way to holiday happiness.

Whether a friend let us down, a schedule left us stressed, or we dread dealing with family baggage that cuts us down, holiday traditions tend to trigger fears and frustrations in face to face encounters. Furthermore, these negative emotions alter our brain’s chemical and electrical circuitry in alarming ways, with a dangerous increase of cortisol if left unaddressed.

Here are some tips to overcome holiday grief:

  • Set realistic goals—Care for ourselves, and we will also build emotional capacity to care more about others. Rather than follow traditional gift-giving demands, give something that offers kindness and comes from personal strengths.
  • Give ourselves a gift we’d love to receive—Think of something that would be fun to receive and then go get it.  Perhaps our gift reminds us of a person we’ve most admired in life, or our gift may help us to build a new skill such as piano or ski lessons.
  • Buy a gift for somebody who least expects it —Choose somebody from church, the neighborhood, or our community center and give a gift that person would likely enjoy most. Expect nothing in return and giving offers endless emotional cheer to the holiday.
  • Uptick our emotional and social health before it works against us—For instance, imagine possibilities that can trigger fun over sadness.  Then, design a plan to handle those emotional missteps when Christmas grief tries to dominate in those down times. Create the plan in finer moments when we feel most content, and it’s easier to set in action when the chips are down.

Meet the namungo gang who help us maintain emotional strength:

  • Spot comfort from happier memories—we now know that with focus, we can move delightfully beyond grief and savor happier memories. It takes a deliberate step back to consider the bigger picture though.  Think of one holiday memory that brims over with joy and love, and we’re already en-route to a new holiday adventure worth remembering. Savor uplifting moments and serotonin begins to replace cortisol triggered by fears or frustrations.  We choose the chemicals to fuel our minds, by the miserable or merry memories we engage.
  • Restore our strength—by eating well, walking or exercising in a way we enjoy most. In spite of busy holiday schedules, we do better if we sleep enough to rewire our brain. How much sleep does it take?  Sleep until we see and anticipate new benefits in the holidays ahead, and we are ready to roll with fun.

Not that we can turn back the clock from loss and grief in past.

Sadly, there is no way to bring back lost friends, erase words misspoken, or prevent Christmas grief that stands knocking, Rather than open our door to grief over this holiday though, what if we value what we once had? What if we embrace what we’d most like to see in a holiday?  Perhaps we build a new relationship or maybe we restore our sense of adventure by doing one thing we enjoy most.  If we simply prepare ahead for fun and celebration over the coming holiday, it’s no surprise we’ll also spread cheer to those around us.

See further activities that help us to avoid grief by ramping up a sense of wonder and curiosity for what the coming holiday holds for those who prepare emotional and social health to receive it.

What’s your best plan to ward off holiday heartaches in favor of festivity and fun?

To access further practical strategies to sidestep grief, you’ll enjoy this article on our brain’s awesome ability to handle a broken heart

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