Here in the New England winter months, the days become not only colder, but also shorter and much darker, and these changes may have an effect on our mood, our behavior, and how we care for ourselves and our families as we grieve. As we stand at the threshold of 2021, we offer these strategies for pacing yourself through the next few months before the dawn of spring.
Acknowledge the darkness.
Though winter can place many extra demands on us, it is important to remember that winter, too, has its place in the course of seasons, and darkness always has its place in relationship to light. Similarly, when feeling overwhelmed, pausing to acknowledge that your grief may feel difficult to manage at this time of year can be an important first step toward clarifying how you might cope with the season. Taking time to understand that the season’s changes may be affecting you, and naming the ways that they might be doing so, can help you start to identify the best ways of caring for yourself and your family.
Make time for self-care.
Making time for your own needs and self-care is especially important in winter. It may seem too difficult or unrealistic to put your own needs first, but neglecting to make self-care a regular part of your daily routine can compound stress and negativity. Like grief, self-care is unique to each individual, but a few examples may include:
- adjusting your diet and exercise routines to take the best possible care of your physical body
- getting plenty of sleep
- taking more time alone for self-reflection and stillness
- leaning on the support of family, friends, and fellow community members
- making more time for activities that you enjoy like reading, watching movies, taking a walk, cooking, or journaling
- expressing yourself creatively through painting, drawing, writing, singing, dancing, etc.
Without taking time for self-care, you may find yourself even more depleted and susceptible to being overwhelmed by painful emotions. Even a few minutes of engaging in self-care each day may have a significant impact on your outlook and your ability to better cope with your grief.