What to do when things are just not so jolly and merry this time of year …
This article is written for all of those who combating loneliness, depression or are going through something right now that makes this time of year, well, at times unbearable.
If you have recently lost your job, experienced a break up, gotten a divorce, lost a parent or just don’t have that picture perfect family, this time of the year may be incredible lonely. You are either at holiday parties in a room full of people who are filled with cheer and you feel alone. Or you can hardly imagine that this year you will wake up with no kids in your home because this is your first divorced Christmas. You may be struggling to think of the loss of a parent and how the holiday will never be the same.
There are endless struggles that many of you and those around you are going through. The one thing you should know is that you are not alone. As much as you may feel alone, you are far from it. Commercials, movies, music and stories may have even the average person questioning their life, wondering what they are missing in their lives that this time of year simply feels more stressful than joyful.
So, for those of you who would like a jump start on how to get through the "most wonderful time of the year …" here goes …
1. Give. Do something for someone else such as a stranger, co-worker, neighbor, a loved one. I don’t mean go buy them a present wrapped all neatly, I mean give your time, your listening ear, your undivided attention, your talent. This will not only surprise and lift someone else’s spirit but also keep you grounded, connected and help remind you that giving really is better than getting.
2. Be open to new traditions. It is likely that throughout this season you will get asked to spend time with another family, or run a 5K with friends, or attend a service at a church you have never attended. So often people confide in me that they say no. They make up excuses simply because they are nervous or afraid. If you keep yourself open to saying "yes" and trying things out you may find that you had a good time, maybe started a new tradition and truly enjoyed yourself.
3. Forgive someone. So often what makes us feel down, holds us back, or just sucks the life out of us is the inability to forgive. When we hold on to hurt we are left with anger, resentment and sometimes guilt. Too much of that weighs us down, loads up our baggage and doesn’t leave room or space for love.
So, even if you just start by forgiving someone in your heart or actually reaching out to someone whom you have unfinished business with, you will be better off for it. Not just during the holidays but moving forward and into the new year.
4. Last, take time to be reflective. Instead of just burying yourself in work, avoiding people or just shopping to excess, take time to write. Give yourself the gift of your own time. What are your hopes, dreams, goals, places you want to travel, people you want to connect with?
Write them down, create a vision board, doodle, create a spread sheet—whatever works for you—just do it. It will keep you present with yourself and allow for some forward thinking time. This will be especially helpful when you may be missing someone, grieving, longing or stressed.
Just doing one of these can be powerful. Trying out all four will very likely not just help you survive the holidays but actually help you thrive through them and into the future. I wish you, the mother, father, daughter, sister, brother, co-worker, neighbor and friend time to take to be grateful for what you do have or what you once had. Having gratitude is often a key in getting people through the hard times. Best wishes.