Simplify Your Life: Dealing with grief and anxiety during the holidays

Last year at this time, I wrote a column on dealing with grief or anxiety during the holidays. After its printing, I received a lot of positive feedback and thought it would be a good idea to repeat the topic with a few updates.

While the holidays are typically a time of joy, many of us are struggling. The pandemic has taken its toll on us and our loved ones physically, emotionally and financially. It’s hard to have Christmas spirit when many Americans are still losing their battle with COVID-19 or other illnesses.

Many people struggle with stress and anxiety over the holidays.
Many people struggle with stress and anxiety over the holidays.

There are things we can do to try to have some moments where we feel grateful, thankful and even happy. Whether you have lost someone special, are disconnected from someone you love, lost your job or the beloved family pet, below are some things you can try to help deal with your grief or anxiety.

1. Acknowledge your feelings. Holding our feelings in can have a significant impact on our physical and emotional health. It’s perfectly acceptable to be sad, frustrated or even angry when you face a significant loss. It’s important to find healthy ways to express your grief. Talk to a trusted friend, write a poem or have a good cry. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief. As it relates to anxiety, keep in mind, it’s ok to feel anxious. No one really knows how it feels unless they’ve experienced it. Acknowledge your feelings and share them with those you trust and get the support you need.

2. Connect with people. With the COVID-19 positivity rate in our area being elevated again, it’s difficult to connect safely in person in large groups. However, we can still connect by phone, Zoom or socially distance in small groups. Set up a Zoom call or meet someone to go for a walk. Humans have a basic need to connect with others. There are several ways to do this. One of my favorite ways is by sharing photos. I love to text or email a special photo to remind the person of a fun or important memory that we’ve shared. How do you connect with your family and friends?

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3. Create new memories or keep traditions going. To honor a loved one, create a new memory in their honor. Many funeral homes create a page for family members and friends to share special stories and memories of the person they lost. We can do this at any time. The holidays are a perfect time to focus on creating new memories or keeping your current traditions going with your family, even if it doesn’t feel quite right this year. Making cookies is usually a tradition that can make people smile.

4. Ask for help. The holidays are a time to give to others. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people want to give, but don’t want to overstep. When you ask for help, you’re allowing your loved ones to give what you need most.

Have a peaceful Christmas. Enjoy the holiday. Stay healthy and safe.

Look for more organizing tips from Deb in the Observer-Dispatch every Sunday and on her websites and You can follow her on social media and watch her TV show Organization Motivation!

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Four ways to deal with grief and anxiety