12 Days of Christmas: Grief and Self-Care

giftThe holiday season is upon us, and many of us have traditions that we keep alive during the winter months. Whether it be gathering with family and friends, a treasured recipe for comfort food, or quiet nights by the fire with a good book, winter is often a time for reflection and making memories. It can also be an especially heavy time of year for those grieving a loss. We want to encourage you to make time to care for yourself this holiday season. While it is traditionally the season of giving, that can also mean giving yourself a gift-and that’s the gift of self-care. We have compiled a list of 12 ways to take extra good care of yourself during this often hectic time of year.

  1. Put a small gift under the tree for yourself.  Wrap it as if you were wrapping it for someone else, and even include a gift tag.
  2. Share memories of your beloved pet with family and friends: stories, pictures, and reflections of the past.
  3. Give yourself a “time-out” from all of the chaos to rest and recharge.  Take a bath, go for a walk, or even take a short break from the crowd by closing the door to your bedroom and taking a few moments to regroup.
  4. Express your grief creatively by making a craft or journaling about your pet.  You can read more about some crafty ideas here.
  5. Share your time or resources with a local pet rescue or shelter and pay it forward.  It can feel good to give back to a cause you are passionate about in honor of your pet.
  6. Send a thank you card to a loved one who supports you or helped you care for your pet.
  7. Sit down and write a letter to your pet.  Include happy memories, and let them know how dearly they are missed.
  8. Reach out to someone you know who may be going through the same sense of loss that you are.
  9. Consider starting a new tradition to honor your dear pet for the holidays.  Lighting a memorial candle, including a special ornament on your tree, or keeping your pet’s stocking hung on the mantle are all some ideas.
  10. Indulge in moderation.  The holidays are a time of sweets, comfort food, and indulgence.  That being said, we feel better when we make healthy choices, including watching our portion sizes and drinking plenty of water.  By all means, indulge, just be mindful.
  11. It’s okay to say “no” when your social calendar starts to fill up.  If the thought of one more social gathering seems to be too much, politely declining is totally acceptable.
  12. Give yourself permission for self-care.  Taking the time to do something for yourself during times of grief is essential to your mental and physical well being.  Be kind to yourself.
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