Updated: Dec 17, 2019
Christmas isn't a happy time for everyone, so I thought it would be great to share some coping techniques - please comment in the comments section below any feedback or futther ideas you may have.
Christmas, and in fact any and all religious and cultural “holidays”, are typically times when we gather among family and friends, relatives and loved ones. They’re usually times where regardless of religious or other beliefs, coming together is a crucial part.
The sad reality for many, however, is that these times are more realistically symbolic of loneliness and isolation. If we’ve lost a loved one, or are geographically separated from family, or if we’re estranged for some other reason, then Christmas and other holidays might not have the happy cheeriness we see attached to them in advertising and marketing messages.
But the good news is that there are still things we can do to find or create a sense of belonging, connect with others and avoid (or at least minimise) feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Ensure your thinking is realistic
Expectations are often high for Christmas and New Year celebrations and whether we’re with family or not, the reality often falls short of that portrayed in greeting cards and on television.
This doesn’t mean you need to think pessimistically or negatively – but it does mean it’s worth taking into account the cold hard realities, whatever they might be, and then making the best of what you have.
One way we can make the best of what we have is to reach out and connect with others. Even though you might feel alone, there are lots of other people who’re also alone. That means, in reality, no one is alone. So, reach out to friends, colleagues, social network connections and do whatever you can to find others you can spend some time.
Lots of organisations (especially charities) are extra busy during the holiday period and would very much appreciate an extra pair of hands. Volunteering serves many useful purposes including getting you out of the house, interacting with others and keeping you distracted, while you’re also doing something meaningful and useful. Giving your time to a good cause, then, can be a real “win-win”.
That being said, and at the risk of contradicting myself, there’s nothing wrong with spending time alone. If you think you’d be happier on your own, then plan to enjoy the time by preparing a Netflix binge, or buying a few good books, or setting aside the time and ensuring you have whatever you need to pursue a favourite hobby. Don’t forget that being alone doesn’t have to mean feeling lonely – time on your own can actually be very pleasurable and rejuvenating.
Put a digital detox in place
Whether you’re finding ways to connect and keep busy, or looking for strategies to enjoy time alone, consider avoiding social media which we know will be flooded with overly positive pictures and posts of friends with their families and relatives, all ostensibly having a great time.
Now in reality, they might not be enjoying themselves as much as their Facebook or Instagram feeds seems to show, but scrolling through and unconsciously comparing your life to theirs might not be the best idea.
And finally, whatever you’re doing, acknowledge your feelings for what they are. If you’re feeling sad or alone or even anxious or angry, accept that for what it is. Only then can you find some sort of peace, and possibly take some sort of constructive action this Christmas, which is what I hope for all of you.
Peace and happiness to you all.