For many people, the holidays are a time for celebration, family, travel and indulgence. However, all the excitement and expectation can raise stress levels. This stress can be further amplified for those coping with grief, infertility, trauma, depression and anxiety. Everyone grapples with at least one of these issues at some point in our lives — we’re all human. So instead of ignoring unpleasant emotions or quietly suffering alone, let’s embrace the holidays as an opportunity to care for ourselves and our loved ones.
Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) Active member, Alisha Reed, shares some tips on surviving the holidays. Alisha, a lifestyle blogger, openly shares stories about her struggle with a miscarriage and postpartum depression: “I found that many people were scared to talk openly about these topics. I put my energy into my blog to channel positivity and knowledge.” Her blog became an important personal outlet and a way to use her experiences to help others. Alisha points how important it is to be proactive in our self-care. Since she lost her baby in the winter, she makes an appointment with her therapist around the holidays for extra support.
Alisha and several other JLNO members shared tips on how to perform wellness checks on ourselves and our tribes during the holidays.
1. Reach out: If you have friends who have suffered a loss, be sure to check on them. “Something as simple as, ‘I know this time of year can be tough. What can I do to help?’ can really be meaningful to someone who feels alone. Try to make simple plans — take a walk or grab coffee,” suggests Alisha. Active Mary Lorenz also checks on friends with depression and anxiety: “People who experience depression often appear okay on the outside and don’t ask for help or someone to talk to when they need it. I reach out to those friends and check in with them.”
2. Consider a quick trip: If staying in town for the holiday season feels too tough this year, consider making plans for a trip. “I have a friend who goes to the beach every year, so she has a change of weather, a change of pace and a distraction from the holidays,” says Alisha.
3. Celebrate your loved ones: Provisional Kischia Smith lost her mother four days before Christmas. “I light a candle in her memory every year and put a special ornament on the Christmas tree that reminds me of her,” says Kischia. “I celebrate her by telling stories of her larger-than-life personality to her grandchildren. I make an active choice to celebrate her.”
4. Be sensitive to those dealing with infertility: Sustainer Allison Waldron shares how handling infertility and pregnancy loss during the holidays is extremely difficult. “People not only post pictures of kids, but it’s a big time to post pregnancy announcements,” says Allison. “Check in on friends and family members who are going through it, invite them to lunch or drinks and try to refrain from sending too many pictures of kids.”
5. Give back to others: Last holidays season, I started a new family tradition to give back to others. My daughters had become obsessed with presents, so on Christmas morning, we drove over to a veterans home and delivered donuts and gift cards. Giving back increased our family’s sense of well-being and helped us focus on what is important.
JLNO members come from many different spiritual and religious traditions, but they all share the value of kindness and compassion. What better time than the holidays for kindness to ourselves and others? We can get through this hectic time of year together.