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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jefferson, LMFT

3 Steps to Manage with Heartbreak During the Holidays

Heartbreak is the worst pain imaginable. It is even more intense during the holidays. You want to spend the season with some yuletide cheer, but instead, feel more like the Grinch. You don’t want to kill everyone else’s joy (or at least not intentionally) but it would be nice to not feel so alone.

You go through December counting down the days until the holiday spirit runs its course. The question is… will your heartbreak be over too?

Unfortunately, no. Loss has no timeline. Heartbreak has no limits. Not to sound like a Debbie Downer, but the quicker we realize these truths, the quicker we can start your journey towards healing. It’s a journey that you must be open to.

There will be struggles, hurdles, and setbacks, but keep on the path and there will be peace.

So, where do we begin?

Watch this video to learn more about how to cope with heartache during the holidays.

Step One: Be Honest with Yourself

The first step is to acknowledge that you’re hurting. It is time to stop putting up a façade and time to start acknowledging your truth. It allows you to feel some weight lifted off and allows people to see that you aren’t ok. Some people will be helpful and others not so much. It gives you the opportunity to see who is really in your corner and who is worth your time when you are in better spirits (and that is IF they deserve you).

When we start to acknowledge our hurt, we can also see where progress needs to be made. Are you holding onto regret? Guilt? Unrealistic expectations? Understanding these questions, and having someone to help you with the answers, can create a better narrative than the one you are holding onto.

It also helps to understand the type of loss you are feeling. For example, when we lose a loved one, it isn’t simply the person we miss. It could mean we are coping with the loss of the future we had planned. The loss of a routine or the loss of companionship. It is more complex and sometimes the pain goes way too deep to deal with alone. So, the holidays can be a very hard time, especially when you have shared traditions that are too heavy to do alone.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t. While it may seem impossible, it can help with the healing. It allows space to honor our lost loved ones (or memories) and gives new meaning to the tradition. It becomes a different type of connection that we miss dearly. While the first year can feel like daggers, over time they can feel less and less sharp. They can even become things we look forward to.

I know it sounds impossible, but I wouldn’t be saying it if I didn’t go through the process myself and if I didn’t see countless others go through it as well.

Step Two: Create realistic plans – Don’t push Yourself too hard

After we move from avoidance to acknowledgment, we must start the work. It is easy to dwell in heartbreak, it is harder to work with it. This requires us to start doing the things that we have neglected in pain. Most often we neglect ourselves. We use whatever energy we do have (in most cases, not a lot) to do things that are not necessarily important, especially during the holidays.

We know that people will want to spend time with us during the holidays, share about their year, etc. If you’re grieving, this can feel like extra pressure and can drain your energy. So, my tip to you is... start creating plans that work for YOU. It is ok to say “no, thanks” or “maybe next time.” You don’t have to push yourself too hard, too fast to appease others. This is your time to heal, and if you don’t find socializing all that helpful, then don’t.

Now, I am not saying to COMPLETELY isolate yourself in the process. What I AM saying is to find a pace that works for you. If you are ok with one-on-one lunches every other week, then start there. If you prefer a group setting, that is fine too. You don’t have to say “yes” to everyone, in fact, even if you aren’t grieving you should be ok with saying “no.”

Other than socializing, we need to focus on our self-care. Again, you don’t have to be at 100%, but you need to be taking care of your basic needs. Especially eating and sleeping, since those two are usually the most affected. So make sure to eat at least three average size meals a day. They don’t have to be 5-meal courses, they can be something small. As long as your body has something balanced and nutritious. With sleep, try creating a bedtime routine that will help you feel better in the nighttime. Sound machines, reducing phone usage, and journaling before bed can help.

Step 3: Find What Makes You Happy During the Holidays

Finding happiness right now might seem like an unattainable dream. But it is possible when we think about what happiness means. Happiness isn’t a constant state of being. There can be pockets of time where we feel good, relaxed, or maybe even joyous.

Being happy/content/or whatever word you want to use, doesn’t mean we are neglecting our grief or heartbreak. It simply means we are giving ourselves time to breathe. To not dwell or stay within the pain. We are simply looking to feel like ourselves again.

In saying all of that, it is important to think about what makes you happy during the holidays. It could be trimming your Christmas tree, enjoying time with friends, walking around viewing the lights, etc. It can be as big as you want or as small as you want.

Granted, celebrating can be hard. I am not saying it won’t be. However, there is still joy that can be found, you simply need to try. Try something new. Like making hot cocoa bombs, baking cookies, or watching a holiday movie. It gives you something to do that takes your mind off the heartache.

If you have something that you do like and it does make you happy, give it a try!

Now, you don’t have to do EVERYTHING that you used to do during the holidays. Remember, we don’t need to push ourselves too hard. The point is to find a balance between doing nothing and doing everything.

Plus, for me, all I ask is that you try. Trying shows that you are willing to work the steps. That you want to find yourself again. That person who feels good. A person who accepts that some days have been better than others. The person who knows that their heartbreak won’t be forever.

If you feel that you might need some help. Advocate for yourself. That is ok too! There are plenty of therapists who specialize in working in heartbreak, like myself, who want to get you to be the BEST version of yourself. So that next year, you can have that yuletide cheer too!

My Holiday Wish for You!

While I do love the holidays, I know it can be hard for those dealing with heartbreak and grief. That is why it is important to focus on what is going to work for you. Holiday guilt (meaning feeling guilty for feeling like a grinch) is not a pressure that you need to take on. You need to focus on yourself, your heartbreak journey, and what brings YOU joy this holiday. So, it is ok if you feel like the grinch because hopefully, your heart will also grow three times as big when you heal from your heartbreak.

My holiday wish for you is to find what makes you feel happy, loved, complete, and at peace. I know if you do the work, that wish will come true.

If you need additional support navigating the holidays or struggling with grief, contact me for your complimentary consultation at 954-391-5305. I’d love to connect with you and discuss how I can help you move forward in a positive direction.

I offer counseling online across the state of Florida and in person at our Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs location. For more information about my services, click here.


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