Feeling the holiday blues? Try these six tips to feel more connected during the holiday season.
In a previous episode, I talked about tips to help make the holidays better for others. Those tips focused on searching out the people in your life who may be lonely, or those who are sad around the holiday season. But what if YOU are the person who feels down during the holidays? What can you do then?
For a few years, my husband and I weren’t financially able to visit our families during the holidays. We lived about 2,000 miles away from them, and weren’t able to afford the holiday airfare prices. If we did go visit them, it would be at the beginning of December or middle of January, which left it being just the two of us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I’ll be honest, those years were really hard for me. It didn’t matter that we were seeing family weeks earlier or later. I wanted to be with my family ON Christmas. I knew the traditions they were having, and it really stunk not being there to be part of them!
What I realized during these years is that there are things that we can do when we get lonely during the holidays. Whether you are missing family who lives across the country, or missing people who are gone from your life, you can take action to make life easier. Notice that I didn’t promise these would make the pain go away completely. The key with these activities is that they can distract us from our pain, and they can help us to feel a connection when we need one the most.
When we get lonely, the last thing most of us want to be is a burden on others. We see them celebrating and being happy, so why would we want to bring others down with us? Sometimes, though, reaching out and letting others know you’re sad or hurting is the one thing you need to let those close to you know. An amazing thing can happen if you tell people that you are homesick or missing a particular person. People can start to show they care.
We recently made a new friend, an 83-year-old man who is away from his family for the holidays. He puts on a strong front, so when we first met him, we weren’t too concerned about him. But then one day he told us he was sad he wasn’t near his family this year, and that he had recently lost two close friends. We started inviting him to join us for meals, watch football games, and occasionally knock on his door to see how his day is going. His opening up allowed us the opportunity to show we cared. If you’re hurting, don’t feel like you need to put on a strong front. Open up and you might be surprised with who reaches out back to you.
Schedule Time to Be (Virtually) With Loved Ones
Even if you can’t be physically with friends and family during this time of year, you may be able to be with them virtually. Phone calls are usually an easy way to be together, but with technology you can almost feel like you are there with them.
Use a program like Skype, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime to be face-to-face with those you are missing most. This can be a one-to-one conversation, but you can also ask that they set up a computer during the holiday get-togethers. You can virtually be in the room, and have conversations with a number of people who are there. The good thing about most of these programs is that, once you have the app downloaded on your smart phone, or you have the correct website to go to, the more technologically-experienced person can usually initiate the calls. This means that even if you aren’t familiar with the technology, you can still receive a call relatively easily.
When we are sad and lonely, it’s super easy to spend all day on the couch watching TV or sappy movies. If you are feeling lonely, it’s time to get busy. Find an organization that needs volunteers or bake cookies for others. If you don’t feel like you even have someone to bake cookies for, take them to the local fire department. There are often a number of people who are working through the holiday season to keep our communities safe, and they will likely welcome you in with smiles if you bring treats. From my experience, they’ll welcome you in with a smile even if you don’t bring treats, but you might just get an extra big smile if you have a plate of cookies in your hand.
If you are still feeling glued to your couch, consider this. The worst thing that is going to happen if you try to stay busy is that it will seem like your day is going by quicker. Twelve hours seems like an eternity if you are in the same prone position the entire time. If you break it up with a walk, a baking session, and a visit to a couple stores, it will seem like the day went by much quicker. And sometimes it’s just about powering through the tough days to get to the better ones.