Home > Health Articles > Healing Through the Holidays: The Insidious Nature of Holiday Grief

By Alice Adams, RN (Retired), M.Ac.
Licensed Acupuncturist at Peaceful Spirit Massage and Wellness Centers

Sadness and grief are not generally emotions we associate with the winter holidays. Even if you don’t celebrate the Christmas holiday, the refrain “tis the season to be jolly” might resonate somewhere in your consciousness. And, of course, many holidays are synonymous with gathering with family and friends and celebrating with food and drink, music, and other activities related to merriment.

But there are factors that can impede our ability to “make merry”. Especially during the holiday season a recent, or not so recent, death or significant loss of any kind can certainly affect our ability to experience joy. Some common manifestations of grief include:
  • Emotional Responses like sadness, anxiety, yearning, loneliness, anger, irritability, confusion, numbness, and guilt.
  • Behavioral Responses like the inability to focus/concentrate, restlessness, absentmindedness, impulsivity, or isolating/social withdrawal.
  • Physiological Responses like fatigue, headaches, sleep difficulties, digestive problems, poor appetite or overeating, low libido, shakiness/ trembling and many more.

Although the loss may not have been very recent experiencing the holidays may reignite and intensify any of these manifestations of grief. Couple these factors with the underlying energy of the Winter season and you may have a recipe for profound discomfort in body, mind, and spirit.

The Energy of the Winter

In Chinese medicine, the season of Winter is associated with the “Water Element”. This quiescent time is exemplified by longer nights and shorter days, and cooler temperatures. In nature, in the plant and animal kingdoms, we observe dormancy. And we, as humans, are not separate from this energetic perspective. Despite our modern amenities like heated homes, artificial light and availability of food (at least for many of us!) we are still affected by the subtle yet profound energies of the natural world. No wonder we feel drawn to stay home curled up with a good book instead of joining in holiday celebrations. Winter is the time to restore and rejuvenate our energies on all levels. It is a time to refill the reservoirs.

One way to be supportive to someone you love (or yourself) is to give the gift of acupuncture. Traditional acupuncture is a naturally effective way to balance your body, mind, and spirit and gain valuable tools for self-care.

Alice Adams has been a licensed Five Element Acupuncturist since 1990 and a Registered Nurse from 1980 until 2012. Her introduction to Eastern Medicine and alternative healing began as an acupuncture patient in 1984.