Tis the season: joyful music, sparkly lights, and colorful decorations, hectic schedules, shopping, and stretched budgets. Everywhere there are tips on buying the perfect gift and images of idyllic family scenes. But for some, the festivities and talk of family gatherings serve to accentuate the painful feeling of being alone and disconnected.
The holidays can be particularly hard for those who are separated from friends and family, newly divorced, or who have suffered the passing of a loved one. And, for better or worse, there are also those who do have family nearby but would rather do pretty much anything other than spend time with them. For them too, it can be a challenging few weeks. But the best part of being an adult is our ability to make choices so regardless of your circumstances, you can choose to open your heart and fill yourself with the same feelings of love and compassion that represent the true meaning of the holiday season.
The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.
Create Your Own Holiday Experience
The first and arguably most important step to finding joy in the season is to let go of expectations about how the holidays should be so you can reclaim control of your emotions and be open and honest with yourself about your wants and needs. Beyond that, here are a few ideas to inspire you.
Treat Yourself to Some Holiday Sparkle
If you’ve always enjoyed holiday decorations consider taking the time to put up a few around your home. You don’t have to go all out; the point is to bring some of the color and sparkle of the season into your line of sight, even if it’s just something small. Think of it as an exercise in self-care, if you would do it for someone else, then why not do it for yourself?!
Reach Out to Others
One of the hardest things about spending the holidays alone is the feeling that everyone is having a great time but you. Don’t exclude yourself simply because you’re too embarrassed to reach out to others. If you have friends (or even co-workers) that are alone this Christmas, consider hosting a pot-luck dinner at your house, or suggesting a get together at a local restaurant. If you’re not able to be with your family this season, don’t be bashful about telling your friends you are homesick! People are normally very open with invitations this time of year, in fact, many welcome the opportunity to have a friend as a “buffer” at family gatherings!
Take a Mini Vacation
If you’re able to take a break you might consider treating yourself to a few relaxing days away from home and work. Maybe there’s a friend who’d like to escape with you, or you could go on your own and consider it a mini-retreat. A visit to a spa, a few hours in the sun and some quality time reading a great book can do wonders to relax and rejuvenate you!
Write Your Story
This is the perfect time to start keeping a healing journal. Why not write about what you’ve learned this year, how you’ve grown and, especially, your vision for the future. The more you can express your thoughts and feelings, the quicker you can work through them and gain understanding about the twists and turns your life has taken.
Celebrate the Life of a Deceased Loved One
If you’re working through the sadness and sorrow of the passing of a loved one it is important to take the time you need to nurture yourself and heal. If there are some traditions you cannot face this year, you can always politely excuse yourself. On the other hand, some people find comfort in being proactive, if that sounds like you, then you may want to consider organizing a memorial celebration of the life of your loved one.
There are many free and low-cost services available online such as Last Memories where you can set up a memorial page for your loved one and invite friends and family to leave their comments and submit photographs.
Or you could host a combination celebration and online fundraiser. For example, if your loved one passed away as a result of cancer-related illness, you could donate the proceeds of your fundraiser to cancer research in their name.
Lend a Helping Hand
This is my personal favorite because I have met so many wonderful people through volunteering and community projects. There are countless ways to be of service during the holidays. Many nonprofits post newspaper ads looking for volunteers, and there are always soup kitchens and charities that need people on Christmas Day.
Giving your time to show compassion to someone who is in need is the best gift of all, and isn’t that what Christmas is supposed to be about anyway?
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Whatever your circumstances, try to remember that on the deepest level the Holiday Season isn’t about gifts, decorations or parties, it’s a celebration of love and hope. Try sending some of that love your own way. You deserve it!