Friday, December 7, 2012/lk
By DEB LAMBO
Heart of Hospice
We all know that the holidays are special — and stressful. Add grief and, well, it can be difficult at best.
What experts know is that planning how to handle the holidays can make a huge difference, and actually reduce the stress.
We’ve designed a little “game” to help lighten the load a little, with reminders along the way to help you manage at a time when managing can be hard.
The guidelines: Every day between now and New Year’s Day, choose one of the items from the idea list (below) to do. You may be able to do some several times. Be sure to space “repeaters” out — i.e., if you choose to spend some alone time, just make sure you do that every second or third day, with other “to-do’s” in between. Don’t worry if you forget to do something one day — just pick up where you can. Remember: This is for fun, not an activity to be used to be hard on yourself.
A couple of suggestions:
n Take your calendar and, beginning with today, choose one item a day and write it on each day of the calendar. For example: Today, you may decide to “take a walk outside;”the day after, “listen to seasonal music;”the Saturday after, “ask for help if you need it;” and so on. This way, you have a plan to get you through the holidays (always keeping in mind that you can modify it as needed).
n Take your calendar, and as you choose an item each day, write it down on that date. It helps you recall what you have done. You can even rate your activity at the end of the day (a dash [–] for not helpful, a slash [/] for neutral, and a plus sign [+] for helpful, so you can refer back to see what has assisted you.
Most importantly, HAVE SOME FUN with these activities. For more ideas and support, go to the Heart of Hospice Foundation website at http://heartofhospicefoundation.org . Most importantly, give yourself time, space and grace. Recall what your loved one would want for you — to live, to laugh and to love.
Lambo has worked with Heart of Hospice and Heart of Hospice Foundation for almost four years as a mental health clinician and bereavement services coordinator. She has an extensive background in clinical psychology and education, and is both a children’s mental health specialist and a geriatric mental health specialist. She enjoys helping people overcome adversity and stress, in order to have a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Listen to holiday music
Spend an hour helping at the food bank
Attend a religious/spiritual service
Write in your journal
Make a gift to charity in your loved one’s memory
Take a walk outside
Be compassionate with yourself
Take a nap
Call an old friend
Bake Christmas cookies
Help someone bake cookies
Light a candle
Attend a grief group
Talk about your loved one
Hug three people today
Decorate a tree
Select an ornament in remembrance of your loved one
Donate a gift to charity in your loved one’s memory
Have a holiday toast
Pick up a piece of litter
Write a holiday letter to your departed loved one
Send five holiday cards
Take some baked goods to a senior center
Call or visit someone who cannot get out easily
Tell your family one thing you’d like to do for the holidays
Take flowers or an ornament to the cemetery or mausoleum or place where your loved one’s remains are
Attend a holiday memorial service (there are several in the community this time of year)
Volunteer an hour or two this week to an organization you believe in
Let yourself have a good cry
Let yourself have a good laugh!
Wrap three gifts
Make your loved one’s favorite dish for a holiday gathering
Give 10 hugs today
Spend quiet time alone
Modify your decorations
Ask someone to help you with a holiday project
Choose not to put up decorations
Let others help you decorate
Give cash or gift cards
Make your gifts
Have a friend help you with (shopping, wrapping, baking, etc. — pick one)
Make a list of gifts to buy before going out
Turn off the holiday music
Make a new tradition this holiday
Keep an old familiar tradition this holiday
Take a drive
Tell your family one thing you do not want to do for the holidays
Invite a friend over
Decline an invitation
Ask for help if you need it
Express your emotions
Eat something healthy today
Identify five things that give you comfort. Do one of those things today
Plan for when you might have difficulties during the holidays. Write it down. Follow as much of it as you can
Ask for what you need
Plan for something to reward you after the holidays
Create a special photo book of your loved one