Are you having a hard time enjoying the holidays this year?
I have been there before. In fact, there is a part of me that struggles every year. None of my (or my husband's) immediate family live anywhere near us. Often times, we spend the holidays apart from those we love the most. That is difficult, and it sucks.
So how do we cope? What can we do to make this time more enjoyable and not feel miserable?
You are going to be provided with some ideas. However, you need to know that the first step is to check your mindset. You need to be willing to find happiness despite all of the reasons this season may suck right now. If you are hellbent on being miserable, that is likely to be the outcome. On the flipside, if you truly want to be happy and have an enjoyable holiday season, then keep on reading!
You still with me?
Fantastic! I also want you to have the best possible holiday season despite any hurdles and struggles you are going through.
Just so you know, there are a LOT of people who feel sad, lonely and disconnected during this time of year. As joyous as this time is suppose to be, it is actually incredibly stressful and can be disheartening.
There are many reasons why you may feel like this and I hope that some of these ideas will help you work through the negativity and find joy and happiness moving forward.
So here they are:
Continue Your Holiday Traditions - Make that family recipe! Watch that movie you do every year! Don't forget the pickle on the tree! Do these things with enthusiasm. If helpful, ask a friend or family member to Skype, Facetime, or Google Duo with you while you partake in one of these traditions. It may help close the distance and help you feel connected. I've done that while making cookies and it was actually a lot of fun!
Make New Holiday Traditions - Whether it is taking a bubble bath with your favorite pandora station, or attending the Holiday Parade of Lights find something that you enjoy and can easily repeat year after year in this new home. Make sure you tell a loved one about this new tradition and explain to them why it is important and what it means to you.
Listen To Upbeat Music - Keep yourself singing and dancing! Don't even think about playing that sappy stuff. TRUST ME, I am well aware of how easily music can turn a mood and leave me feeling sad. Don't do it...keep the happy stuff on!
Make Your Home Feel Special - Decorate, even if you keep it simple. There is no need to stress over decorating, but it is helpful to add a little cheer to your home. If you need some ideas, check out this quick read.
Do Something Kind For Somebody Less Fortunate - Find somewhere to volunteer, even if just for a couple hours! This is a great way to focus your energy into bringing positivity to others. It's likely those positive vibes will rub off on your personal life and give you some feeling of gratitude and satisfaction. This is also a great way to meet some people and socialize for a short period of time. If you end up enjoying the activity, see if you can volunteer on a more regular basis.
Keep Moving and Get Fresh Air - Physical health impacts mental health. So even if you don't have a gym membership, there are a million ways you can move. Yes, winter is likely already impacting the weather (It sure is here in South Dakota), but that really is no excuse to not get up and get moving. You owe this to yourself. Be creative and use your resources. At the very least, walk at the mall or do a workout video at home. BUT DON"T FORGET TO GET FRESH AIR TOO!
Share Your New Holiday Experiences With Loved Ones - Send them pictures. Call them! Stay connected. Don't cut yourself off from your friends and family. Instead, share it with them. Get them excited about the adventure you are on. Sometimes it can be hard for them to see their loved one move so far away and they may feel a little hurt. The best thing for both parties is to keep that communication going and encourage each other!
Go To Local Holiday Events - Even if you have to fly solo, find an event to go to in the town you live. This could be a parade, party or festival. Take this opportunity to experience your new community. See what the norms and traditions are here. Find out what gets people excited to live there!
Don't Let The Weather Be An Excuse - Bundle up and dress for the weather! Seriously, don't be one of those people that refuses to go out in the winter. Moving to the Midwest added at least 2 to 3 months of winter in my year. I was not too excited about that but quickly learned that I had to embrace it or I would be absolutely miserable. Now I can easily see those people who make winter miserable...and I avoid them! Often times you just need to get the proper winter attire to be comfortable out in the elements. ...and nobody said you have to spend hours on end doing winter sports. You simply need to be able to get out and partake in social activities during the winter months.
Get Involved - Put yourself out there and join a group of interest (Newcomers Club, Book Club, Sports Rec League, Outdoors Group). THEY WILL NOT BITE! I was soooo skeptical to join a Meetup group when I got out of college. It was something my parents encouraged since I was going through a major life change and needed to find friends. Much to their delight, that was the best decision I made. In fact, I ended up making some amazing friends and one of them ended up becoming my husband! It is hard to walk into a room full of people you don't know and start conversation. You feel awkward and nervous. In these situations, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you have NOTHING TO LOSE! And if you live in Sioux Falls, join the Sioux Falls Newcomers Club! Commit to a regular group activity!
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone - The hardest part of a move is often the whole "making friends" part. It is intimidating and can be awkward BUT IT IS NECESSARY. So, take a deep breath and start conversation with people when you are out and about. Start doing this on a regular basis and it will become easier. At this point, you have nothing to lose. Don't expect to find your next BFF by doing this, but you may learn about some things that interest you in that town or make a connection that you can touch base with again. Don't be afraid to tell people you are new to town. That may help them ease into the conversation too!
Don't Dwell - Stop sitting around on your phone looking at all of the fun your friends and family are having without you this year! You are smart enough to know this is not a healthy activity for you to do. AND you should also be aware that social media tends to only shed light on the positive parts of our lives. Everything is not perfect at home. You are not missing out on the PERFECT holiday season. Instead, spend that time living your life and doing something you enjoy!
Start Planning Your Next Great Adventure - Perhaps this would be plotting out a day trip for you to explore the surrounding area of where you live, or maybe a weekend trip to meetup with some friends and/or family at the halfway point between your homes. Whatever it may be, find something that you can plan and look forward to.
Be Realistic - This year will be different, but different doesn't mean bad! Just because you don't have the same routine and support system physically by your side this holiday season, does not mean all is lost. Likely, you still have that same love and support from afar. Some people are better at communicating long distance than others. So if you aren't feeling enough love, you need to be the one to initiate a phone call to hear that voice that matters at the other end. As you go through this transition, think of another transition in life that you have already gone through...a positive one. There were probably a lot of mixed feelings throughout that time, but you made it through. This may be super difficult for you right now, but you can do it. Keep your chin up and don't give up!
Treat Yourself - You deserve it. Take some time to think about what you would really enjoy doing or experiencing in your town. What is within your budget? It doesn't need to be anything extravagant, just something that you do not normally do for yourself. Go to a local book store and spend some time drinking coffee and picking out a good book. Go get a massage or spa treatment. Sign up for an art class. Go to a concert. Go buy some special nail polish to give yourself a pedicure at home while watching a new release movie you've been wanting to see. No matter what this treat is for you, TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. Let this truly be YOU time. Enjoy it!