The holidays are  a joyous time. Winter is almost here, the hot chocolate is flowing, the snow is still fresh and beautiful, and we have more time to spend celebrating.

However, the holidays can also be a time of great difficulty, especially if we are grieving a loss.  Feeling down and noticing others seem happy?

You are not alone.

Grief can elevate cortisol levels, and create a cascade of reactions that actually  lead to immune system imbalances.

Couple grief with activities such as alcohol or tobacco use, heavy indulgence in sugar and fried foods, and the immune system suffers even more. This combination of grief and unhealthy lifestyle aggravates all autoimmune disorders.  

So what can be done about this difficult time?

Here are some ideas:

1. Focus on sleeping well

Sleep is more challenging when we are grieving. Stack the cards in your favor by dimming lights after sundown, turning off screens an hour before sleep, setting a bedtime alarm, and then doing activities that are soothing and relaxing.

2. Take time every day to reach out to everyone else who is suffering a loss

Close your eyes and think of all the people who are grieving in their own ways, and wish them relief from suffering. Write a note to someone you know is having difficulty with their own loss.

3. Find a special way to honor the loss you are experiencing

Choosing an activity to honor someone’s memory (such as volunteering), creating a place in your home where you might light a special candle, or thumbing through old photos, are all ways to honor your relationship.

4. Make a donation to a not-for-profit

Choose a non-profit that has meaning for the person or companion animal you are grieving.

5. Be gentle with yourself

It’s important to surround yourself with comforts like a cozy soft blanket, a cup of relaxing tea such as holy basil, or chamomile, or your favorite music mix.

6. Make a pact with yourself

Take notice to small things that are beautiful, amazing, funny, or extraordinary, every day. Be sure and take a photo or write them down.

7. Accept social invitations

But only If you want to. Sometimes one-on-one time is easier. But don’t isolate yourself. We need other people when we are processing something life-altering.

8. Use some comforting essential oils

Some examples would be  wild orange or tangerine, lavender, or rosemary, as these can ease your mood.  Place a couple of drops on a tissue or your pillowcase to enhance your sleep experience.

Whatever your situation, know that over time and with your efforts, you will find a way to move forward and ease your pain.  Wishing you compassion, comfort and yes…joy…during this holiday season.