Tips for loneliness or sadness during the Holidays
For some people the holidays can be a lonely, stressful, or sad time. Perhaps you’ve had the loss of a loved one, a major life change, are dealing with excess stress ,mental health issues, or family problems. Maybe you just aren’t in the holiday spirit. Below are some practical tips for getting through a tough holiday.
Adjust your expectations. Sometimes a feeling is made worse by telling yourself you shouldn’t have it. Instead of fighting against a feeling, allow yourself to feel it. Don’t force yourself to do things that are uncomfortable. By giving yourself grace to not have everything go as you might traditionally have done things in the past, you can make room for an old tradition or two, or even make new ones. When you adjust expectations about what the holiday is supposed to be like, you have more room to think outside the box about what might truly help you.
Find appropriate support. Certain people may be helpful during this time, perhaps others you find overly cheerful, overly, sad, or force things upon you that you do not want. This can be a great time to limit these interactions when you can, and find comfort through grief groups, religious communities, or some family. There are more and more churches for instance that have events like “Blue Christmas,” a subdued Christmas event for when you are struggling through the holidays.
Stay as healthy as possible. This time of year can be prime season for overindulging on sweets or alcohol, and becoming so busy there is less time for exercise or other necessary self care. By taking care of your basic health, you can feel more prepared to manage challenging emotions. Try meditating, prayer, or light exercise as a way to manage stress vs overindulgence in unhealthy food or drink.
If you are spending significant time alone and feel sad, find a way to let people know (if they don’t already.) If you are spending Thanksgiving or Christmas Day alone, for example, inform people if you will be alone for the holidays. I am on several different community facebook groups, and recently saw a couple postings from people who were new to the community and looking for people to celebrate the holidays with. Many people reached out. You might feel odd reaching out to strangers, but you’d also be amazed with how many people enjoy opening up their home to others.
Consider doing something new this year. Perhaps you travel or volunteer to help at a soup kitchen. Make you spend the day hiking or snowshoeing with a friend. Be Creative!
Remember that many people find this time of year challenging, at least at some point in time in their life. There are many therapists, clergy, community members, etc who are available to talk to people who are hurting. Don’t put off reaching out!