Christmas has now come and gone.
Those who are deeply grieving thought they could finally breathe a huge sigh of relief…yet some woke up the day after Christmas and didn’t feel the relief they thought they would feel.
Some even woke up feeling worse.
Something I wish someone would’ve told me, in my initial grief, about the days following a holiday is: some tough emotions can follow holidays and special occasions.
It’s important to be prepared for possible depression, anxiety, and other surprising emotions that can follow Christmas, holidays, anniversaries, and other big life events. When you prepare or anticipate these potential emotions, you can then come up with a plan for relaxation and how to best get through these tough emotional times.
Many grievers will feel relieved – a complete sigh of relief – that Christmas is now behind them, while others are confused why they now suddenly feel worse.
Emotions are so heightened before holidays, big days, or special occasions —in day-to-day life as well as grief—so after the holiday, event, or big day happens, those heightened feelings can suddenly crash down…leaving you feeling depressed, anxious, a “void,” disappointed, irritable, or defeated more than usual.
Depending on how big the aftermath was, the feelings that accompany big events can take you by surprise and throw you for a loop.
Always be kind to your heart, as well as compassionate and patient with yourself.
Realize you’re not alone and what you’re feeling is normal.
It truly takes time to rebuild a broken heart and shattered life.
Be prepared for crashes, as well as any random feelings, and practice seeking God, peace, and times of relaxation when the feelings come – or become overwhelming.
There are many thoughtful ways to get through the tough emotions of grief, as well as many ways to relax.
Try one of these 15 ideas – or creatively come up with your own:
- Pray—talk to God and share with Him all of your thoughts, feelings, fears, disappointments, worries, anger, disappointments, anxieties, heartaches, etc
- Allow music to comfort your soul—listen to meaningful praise or soft classical music and soothing sounds, or anything that relaxes you. Consider playing (or learning how to play) the piano, guitar, or other musical instrument.
- Breathe deep and relax—sit quietly, take a hot bath, take a nap, or do something to relax your mind. Breathing slow deep breaths in and out can also relax you while lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
- This one is very important: remind yourself, “it isn’t always going to be or continually feel like this”—these feelings will not always be as strong or intense. It is very important to remember life can and does get better. It will be different than what it once was…but with God, spiritual and emotional encouragement, grief work, and self care, it can get better.
- Call a trustworthy loved one—family, grief support groups, and good friends are so valuable when going through grief. It’s also so very beneficial to talk to someone who has been through similar grief because they can share wisdom and insight of how they got through their worst days to find better days.
- Do an activity that brings joy to your heart—take time to truly enjoy doing a hobby or activity you currently or previously loved to do. You can also learn new hobbies or activities to do. Sometimes, it’s good to press forward to do these things. You may not feel up to it, but after awhile, I have found great benefit and solace doing activities I enjoy.
- Cooking and baking can be therapeutic—Invite some loved ones over and cook a delicious relaxing dinner together or bake together, or go out to eat and relax with loved ones as you have a night out. You can also have a quiet afternoon of baking by yourself and then enjoy the treats you baked and pass them out to loved ones later.
- Sit in a comfy chair with a warm blanket and drink some hot tea, coffee, or hot cocoa—Read the Bible or a good book…something that is encouraging and uplifting. As you drink your tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, savor this time of relaxation.
- Have a mini spa day at home or go out for one—stay home and do a homemade facial, manicure, and pedicure. Or go get a massage, fresh haircut, or a manicure or pedicure at a spa. You could also bring a family member or friend along and go to lunch afterwards.
- If the weather is nice, sit on a porch, go on a nature walk, or patio dine, if not, look out the window and enjoy the view—being outdoors or looking outside to relax and reflect on all the ways God has provided for you and carried you, considering the family and friends who have cared about you, and also reflecting on every good thing in your life that has the potential to still bring your heart peace and joy…it all has a way of bringing peace to your soul. Sometimes a different outlook becomes a much-welcomed, unexpected encouragement to your heart.
- Journal—write down your thoughts, goals, feelings, and life events. Journaling is so very therapeutic. It’s also beneficial to look back one day, read journals you’ve written, and see how you’ve grown – how much you’ve overcome – and how far you’ve made it. Also – be sure to write down every memory you have of your loved one. As time goes by, memories can fade. Even though it is initially painful, you’ll most likely be grateful you wrote all of the memories down. I talk to so many grievers who regret not journaling their memories.
- Exercise or stretch—exercise has been proven to alleviate stress and help depression and anxiety. It also can be very relaxing. It takes your mind off of things for awhile, too….a scheduled time each day to experience relief from your grief.
- Organize your home and life—clutter can add to the chaos of grief, so dedicating even 15–30 minutes a day to decluttering your home and life is well worth the effort.
- Enjoy your pet or consider getting a pet—I believe pets are amazing little “heart healers” sent by God. Our family went through a tough grief experience and within a few months, we got a puppy from a home rescue. I always looked at our rescue dog and thought, “who rescued who.” God used this sweet puppy to comfort our family more than we could’ve ever imagined. An important note: deep consideration should be used when getting a new pet. They’re a 7 to 15+ year commitment depending on breed, and a financial responsibility, so make sure you can handle the time commitment and responsibility of a furry lil friend. Study up on breeds of dogs. To me, they’re totally worth it! If you want the companionship of a pet, but not the full commitment, there may be opportunities in your area to volunteer at a pet shelter or to foster pets if you’d like the therapeutic benefits of a pet, but can’t fully commit to a lifelong pet. Our family loves our dogs – they definitely make life sweeter.
- Create a Bucket List—I’m a big believer in creating, keeping, and maintaining a bucket list. It helps to focus on the greater picture, as you write down everything you still want to do and achieve, so you purposely don’t waste life. There are many things I was able to do – that I otherwise wouldn’t have done – during times of grief because of ideas or goals I wrote in my Bucket List notebook.
I hope these ideas are helpful to you and I hope all of you had a special, meaningful, and blessed Christmas!
Never give up HOPE! Even if things aren’t ideal or good right now, better days are ahead of you. Some of your very best days may not have even happened yet. Hang in there!
Gratitude & many blessings,
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