Bothered by the holidays?
By Alison Blackman (advicesisters.com and aka. “Lace”)
Every year on my beauty, fashion and lifestyle web site advicesisters.com I publish some version of this article It started out as a “how to deal with being single on the holidays” feature, but as time went on I realized that it’s not just singles that might be without a special someone, or even friends or family on big holidays. But we are bombarded with visions of happy families and friends, special love and so forth thanks to the media. It makes us feel almost obligated to follow that theme and when we can’t, sometimes it can be very depressing.
You’r enot alone! Not everyone feels “merry & bright” during holidays. Whether you are single or not, holidays, especially Christmas/Chanukah, Thanksgiving and Valentines Day can make you feel lonely and “out of it.” That is why I am sharing this feature about how to handle the holidays with you right now, as Christmas and New Years Eve, loom. If you aren’t into hearing “Jingle Bells” from Halloween to New Years Eve everywhere you turn, you don’t get the holiday spirit or if you feel like you’re the only one without fabulous holiday plans, this article is for you! What I suggest for right now is also relevant to the rest of the year. Continuing reading, and share on social media (icons are below the article, just click and send) and with anyone you think needs a reality check and a “pep talk!”
The media showers us with unrealistic visions of what holidays should be. There are visions of the glamorous holiday parties you’ve never attended, the loving family gatherings where there is never any fighting, cranky kids, disapproving relatives, or disappointing presents, fancy cars with big bows in the driveways (surprise!) engagement rings you’re not going to get, and all sorts of other “together” ideas. Reality Check: The holiday trek to “grandma’s house is exhausting and sometimes, beyond unpleasant. Everyone wears on your last nerve. Even the most gung “ho ho ho!” among us can be worn down. Most people are not getting the opulent gifts so see hawked on TV, most likely they’re getting whatever was a bargain during Black Friday or Cyber Monday or something re-gifted. The woman looking so surprised as she opens a gift to find an emerald necklace or who spies a Mercedes with a red bow on the top of it in her driveway is usually an actress. And how many of us really feel loved on Valentine’s Day if the jewelry, box of chocolates or even card doesn’t show up???
Being together with family, friends and that special someone can be wonderful, but when I look at magazines with dazzlingly beautiful couples dressed in black tie, apparently having the time of their lives at chic parties in amazing settings (and you can too) I wonder who has these soirees. I’ve been to some but as obligations, usually some corporate thing with people I don’t know or people I’d be happy to avoid, The majority have more casual parties (most likely without piles of fois gras and luxurious champagne). But consider that it’s not so great to be wearing a body shaper that pinches all night in a sexy gown you can’t dance or sit in, and making it look like you’re having fun. Most of these “revelers” would so much prefer to be home eating take-out with the dog! Feel fortunate if you’re having fun with people you like, even if it’s just for guacamole and beer.
But What If You Are Really Alone?? Reality Check: You are not the only one who is alone. There are people who never can’t ever get out (not just in hospitals or prisons). There are shut-ins and those who don’t feel well enough, mentally or physically, to make the effort. There are plenty of people who just don’t care to be among the crowd. If that doesn’t make you feel any better, consider this: You alone can make yourself stop being lonely or sad. You may find yourself all alone on a holiday, for business, or snowed in at an airport instead of on your way home, or maybe you don’t have the money to make it home at all, but it’s not always a bad thing. There are a lot of last-minute break-ups, and family fights, and taking a break from it all might put it in better perspective if you follow the tips below:
Volunteer: Giving back is such an empowering feeling. There are volunteer opportunities everywhere. You can Google volunteer opportunities and find something that suits your interests. Visit your local religious organization or community center and they’ll help match you with volunteer activities. One traditional way to bring cheer during the holidays is to help deliver meals to the seniors, shut-ins, or serve one to those who can’t afford a holiday feast on their own. The gratitude you will experience will make you feel so appreciated and keep you from feeling bad. It really does help put your own situation in better perspective. You’ll be with other loving, caring people and you will be keeping busy so the holiday passes quickly.
Create A Happy Environment: A happy environment helps lift your spirits. If you like holiday decorations, put them up, even if it is “just for you.” Play the music you love. Light a dark night with scented candles. Display holiday cards you have received. You can’t help but feel appreciated when you see all those cards. If you’re really not into “holiday” buy something new to cheer up your space.
Plan a Pre-Party: If you know you are going to be alone on a holiday but you don’t want to be host a gathering in your own place before everyone leaves for Christmas, New Years, etc. Take plenty of photos of everyone and put them on your computer or phone. Look at them if you’re feeling lonely and remember that holidays come and go. You’ll be united with friends and family.
Celebrate Loved Ones: Good memories are the way we keep alive the ones we have lost. If you start to feel sad about a recent loss, think about the happy times you had — because no one can take these from you –they are yours, forever.
Do Something Creative: One sure way to feel better is to banish negative thoughts because you are just too busy to wallow in them. Start a project. Cook something special (and time-consuming) that you love but don’t usually have the luxury of time to make. The smell of fresh bread or cookies, or a holiday cake, or fragrant soup will pass the time and reward you with something delicious to enjoy. If cooking isn’t your thing, you don’t have to eat Turkey or a Roast just because “Mom” always made it. If you feel like vegetable curry or chicken noodle soup…go for it! If you are away from home, try working on a puzzle or knitting, or anything that takes hours to complete. Keep busy and focus your attention on something positive to makes time, fly.
Meet To Eat: For some, the worst thing is eating alone. If you are in this group, consider participating in an ‘eating & meeting” event where everyone who is alone brings someone else to lunch, brunch, or dinner. This is not just great for singles, it is a way to make new friends and create a feeling of community. Even if you don’t have someone to bring, it is a fun way to enjoy a holiday meal with others, and maybe even get together every week or month. You don’t even have to be looking for a romantic partner, it’s a good way to get in the holiday spirit with others who don’t also want to sit at home alone. The positive mood is infectious! These events offer companionship, conversation, and (if you are seeking romance), you just might find a new love. If nothing else, everyone there is in the same boatas you are, and happy you’re there.
Plan Ahead: Whatever you do, don’t leave plans for the last minute and then wonder what you’re going to do with yourself. Definite plans ahead of time are comforting. Pre-arrange time to make calls to family and friends and ask them to text you. These give you (and them) something to look forward to. Make yourself be happier by watching movies classics that inspire you or make you laugh. “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Sleepless in Seattle” are my personal, pick-me-up, holiday favorites.
Connect: Computers and smart phones keep you constantly connected. No matter where you are in the world, if you are single, people are online and looking to connect, especially on the holidays. You already know that not everyone is “nice” on the net. Lonely or emotionally upset people are especially vulnerable to predators online, and you can’t know if the strangers on the other side of your computer screen are who they say they are. Obviously, this is common sense, but if you are lonely and looking to connect with someone, just remember never to reveal personal information or your intimate feelings.
Get Advice: Promise yourself that next year things will be different. If you feel “stuck” and want 2016 to be better. One way is to bookmark Leatherandlaceadvice.com to get more insight into your relationships. Make your relationships easier, more successful and more fun!
A FINAL BIT OF WISDOM: Holidays can be tough, especially if you’re not feeling the love and sharing with someone special, bit each day is just 24 hours long –even holidays– and then it’s over! Sad thoughts feel like they’re here forever, but actually, they are fleeting. For most people keeping busy, having a plan, and thinking about happy things are effective ways to banish the blues. However, if you are feeling more than just a normal, situational “negativity” or you have a very serious or potentially life-threatening problem, don’t wait: Call a local hot line or visit a local crisis center in your area. To find help immediately, do an online search (e.g. “crisis hotline”) or check the phone book. Make 2015 end well and make 2016 even better!