Many people have a difficult time with the holidays. Perhaps you’ve lost someone dear to you in the last year. Or maybe you’re living far from relatives. Whatever the reason, there are ways you can cope with the holiday blues without breaking the bank.
1. Put on some upbeat holiday music. I have a really hard time being sad when I’m listening to happy music. Go ahead. Dance if you like. If you’re home alone, nobody will see you. If you’re at home with the kids, they’ll enjoy the fun. Pretty soon you may find yourself crumpled on the floor, laughing so hard you can’t breathe.
2. Keep a gratitude journal. Keeping a record of the little things you’re thankful for makes it easier to remember that life isn’t all bad. Even if the only gratitude you can muster is for a couple of hours of sunshine, it’s something positive. And the more you seek out things to be grateful for, the easier it is to be content, even if your situation isn’t ideal this year.
3. Remember that it’s just one holiday. Things are bound to change by next year. Last year we had possibly the worst holiday season of our lives. My father-in-law entered the hospital on Thanksgiving morning with breathing problems, and he passed away on December 8th. So in the midst of the holidays we were planning a funeral and celebrating Christmas without one of our parents for the first time. It helped to remember that we weren’t the only people in the world who had been faced with this situation, and that many people survive grief during the holidays. We face another challenge this year, facing the first anniversary of my father-in-law’s death, but things are definitely a little bit easier this year. And I suspect each passing year will continue to get easier.
4. Shake things up. If you’ve always had a big ham dinner at noon on Christmas, and you’re facing Christmas alone this year, go to a friend’s house and have turkey. Or have Christmas dinner at 5:00. Unwrap gifts on Christmas Eve if you’re used to opening them on Christmas morning. By not following your usual traditions, it will be easier to forget about what you’re missing. On the other hand, if you find comfort from traditions you’ve always followed, by all means follow them.
5. Give back. There’s no better way to get out of a holiday funk than to focus on other people. Serve food at a soup kitchen. Volunteer at a Toys for Tots distribution center. Charities always need help during the holidays. Find a charity you support, and volunteer. You will feel good by giving back to the community.
However you deal with the holidays, remember the holiday season is temporary. In a short month, life will get back to it’s normal routine. And if you ever feel like you can’t deal with the holidays at all, seeking some help from your family physician or psychologist is a must.
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