Christmas is a pretty merry holiday (and I’d imagine the
non-Christian holidays are pretty festive too), and for me, it’s always
a time to count my blessings. I’m blessed with many things, but a
loving family is top on my list.
However, there may be some of you who are going through these
holidays without family, without anyone perhaps, and I know that can be
extremely rough. This post is for you.
Photo courtesy of ~chicchun~
While there are many ways to be happy by yourself, I think there’s
something about the holidays and the festiveness of it all that gets
people down if they feel alone. For some, it’s a real low point, so
much so that depression can hit and times can get pretty dire.
I was thinking about those of you who are going through this during
this holiday season, and my heart goes out to you. If this time of year
is getting you down, and you feel alone, here are some suggestions for
things to do.
As always, remember that I am not a professional, and that
counseling or other professional help should be sought if things are
very serious. These are just my tips, based on things that have worked
for me in the past.
1. Seek family and friends. When we’re feeling
lonely, often the best comfort is the presence of loved ones. If
possible, seek out their company, and spend some quality time with
family and friends. Talk to them about your feelings … I know it can be
difficult to admit to loneliness, but talking to someone about it can
truly help. If you have no one to talk to, seek out a hotline in your
area or go to an online forum and anonymously tell people about your
loneliness. You’ll feel better for it.
2. Forgive. Sometimes what’s stopping us from
making connections with loved ones is the walls we put up … perhaps
we’re holding a grudge or there’s bad feelings about something that
happened in the past. And the only thing keeping us from healing those
wounds, and building that bridge, is pride and fear of rejection. So
take the leap: throw pride aside, and jump through the wall of fear,
and reach out to a loved one. Forgive them, in your heart, and just
reach out. Make that connection. It’s Christmas. Forgive.
3. Open yourself to meeting new people. Another
thing that stops us from making those connections with people is that
we put up walls between us and those we don’t know intimately. Perhaps
there are coworkers or classmates or other acquaintances that could be
good friends, but we close ourselves off. Well, resolve to change that,
if that’s the case. Open yourself up, and be friendly, and reach out.
Sure, it won’t always work out, but it will never work out if you don’t
give it a shot.
4. Volunteer. Nothing can remind us about the true
spirit of Christmas as well as serving food to the less fortunate. It
makes us realize how lucky we are, and we feel good that we are helping
our fellow human beings. Take some time during the holidays to
volunteer your time to a good cause, and in doing so not only give of
yourself, but open yourself up to these fellow human beings. Then, if
it’s a great as I think it will be, continue that throughout the year.
5. Exercise. You’ll see this on many of my lists …
because it really works. Exercise is such a great way to lift your
mood. I went running this morning, and it was just a beautiful start to
my day. If you’re feeling down, get out and get active. You don’t need
to hit the gym or go running … play basketball, hit the batting cages,
go hiking, anything that gets you active.
6. Pamper yourself. Be Santa to yourself … give
yourself the gift of relaxation. Get a massage, or go to a spa, or just
set a hot bath and drink some tea or cocoa. However you do it, find a
soothing activity and environment and just enjoy yourself.
7. Be festive. It may seem contrived, but if you act
happy and merry, you probably will feel that way too. Get into the
holiday mood, sing songs, decorate, celebrate in some way. With enough
merriment in your life, you’ll find it making its way into your heart
8. Give. Similar to volunteering, giving can give
you a great feeling about yourself. Give to the needy, or to a
neighbor, or to a child you know. Give to a good cause.
9. Avoid excessive alcohol. Many people resort to
drink this time of year. But instead of bringing the numbness they
seek, it usually leads to worse depression. Some alcohol is fine, but
keep things in moderation.
10. Keep things simple. The holidays can be merry,
but more often they’re filled with more activities than we can handle.
The holiday events add things to our regular to-do list that threaten
to overwhelm. Instead, simplify your life during the holiday season
(and keep it going into the New Year) and reduce instead of increase
the amount of stuff you do. You will be less stressed and happier for
11. Spend time with single friends. Sometimes it
can be a real downer to hang around with your married friends and
family. In addition, they are so focused on their family that they
often don’t focus on you. While you shouldn’t shun your loved ones who
have families or partners, it’s a good idea to get together with the
single friends in your life. Not only can you keep each other company
during these tough times, but you can focus on each other more, share
commonalities, and have a great time together.
12. Find and pursue your passion. While many with
families will work less during the holidays, you could try something
different: work more. But don’t just work for work’s sake — do work
that you love. Whether that’s a project you’re passionate about at your
current job, or pursuing a passion outside your job in your off hours,
pour yourself into work that you’re passionate about. You may need to
seek out that passion, and do some experimenting and soul searching,
but that’s the fun.
13. Hold a get-together yourself. Don’t wait to be
invited — hold a get-together and invite those you’d like to talk to
for a little while. Get creative with the food. Keep things simple.
Play some great music and have a blast.
14. Focus on what makes you happy. Perhaps the most
important tip of all: instead of focusing on what you don’t have, and
thinking about what makes you sad and depressed … focus on what you
love. What makes you happy? If you focus on that, that will be your
reality. Sounds corny? It is. But it works.