Feeling lonely, disconnected or down?
It’s hard to feel joyful when you’re isolated, far away or estranged from family. Not everyone enjoys the holidays. Sometimes painful memories or worries about the future get in the way of enjoying the present.
I don’t have all the solutions to solve these problems. Sometimes the pain runs very deep over many, many years. Healing can honestly take a lot of work. For the time being, I want to offer three ideas that might offer just a bit of relief.
- Help someone else. I think everyone has something to offer. We all have strengths and talents. You can use your gifts to help someone else. Even if you’re not in the holiday spirit, you can make someone else’s holiday a little brighter. This could be helping your elderly neighbor shovel her driveway or buying (or collecting used) blankets and taking them down to the park where you know homeless folks sleep. Or you could arrange to wash the dishes after Christmas dinner at a shelter. Or you could invite a coworker who doesn’t have any family to have dinner with you. These small things can mean a lot. They also help us remember our blessings and feel grateful for what we have (even if it’s not a lot). That doesn’t necessarily take the sting out of what you’re missing, but it might change your perspective. Offer what you can, in the way you can.
- Go to a religious service. I’m not one to push religion on people. It’s not for everyone and that’s OK. At the same time, there’s no denying that for many people religion offers mental health benefits including hope and community. There is a strong sense of belonging and acceptance when you visit a welcoming congregation. So, even if you haven’t been to church or synagogue in a long time, you might find it comforting to sing familiar songs and say familiar prayers. You might feel reassured and loved when you’re in the presence of God and his followers.
- Spend the day doing something non-holiday related. Sometimes the best way to spend the holidays is to not celebrate at all. You can take a year off from celebrating and do your own thing instead. Get some Chinese food, see a double feature at the movie theater, or go hiking. You get to choose how to spend your time and it doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing!
“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” -Michelle Obama
I’d love to hear your ideas on how to cope with the holidays when you’re alone. Please add them in the comments; you may help someone else with what you have to offer!
My best wishes to you during this difficult time,
© 2016 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.
Photo by koko-tewan at freedigitalphotos.net