Quick Guide: Supporting Loved Ones During the Holidays
We all have loved ones for whom the holiday season is more distressing than jolly. Anticipation of seeing someone who has hurt them, an increase in traumatic memories of previous holidays, or grief of not being able to celebrate with estranged family can make the holidays more miserable than merry.
Supporting these loved ones through the holidays may seem like a difficult task, but there a few things you can do that may make the season brighter.
* Acknowledge once how difficult the holidays can be and let them know you are there to support them. Remember, constantly asking if they are OK can be overwhelming. Respect their boundaries if they decline to talk more about it.
* If you know a concrete way to help them reduce holiday stress, offer it rather than waiting for your loved one to ask.
* If you would like to do something festive with your loved one, plan a low-stress, fun way to celebrate. It may help reduce the stressful anticipation they are probably experiencing and gives them something positive to look forward to.
Even more helpful is to choose a holiday activity that allows them to manage the more stressful tasks of the holidays. For example, have your friend over to watch Muppet Christmas Carol while you wrap gifts or bake cookies. It is fun, festive, and makes a sometimes tedious task more bearable. You may even create a beloved annual tradition!