Cheers, drinks, decorations, the same ole Christmas tunes over and over and all over – lightheadedness and “Be Merry,” except……
That’s unfortunately not true for everybody.
For many people, the holiday season is indeed emotionally the most challenging time of the entire year. Not everyone has a close family, a circle of friends, a warm and cozy place. Many people live by themselves and have no one to share a cheer, unless they plan it. And that can be done and is a good idea.
Here are some thoughts and things you can do to overcome, or at least comfortably “survive,” the Holiday Blues.
First, it is actually a short season. Since Thanksgiving is already behind us – another challenging day for the same reasons – we are now dealing with Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, a few days in between and then New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day, altogether about one week – out of 52. Knowing up front that the period of time to deal with, is specific and short, is a big help. One can plan how to fill these time slots.
Secondly, make efforts not to be alone, unless you are sure that this is what you want, AND, that you’ve done it before and it was OK. Being by yourself could lead to brooding, feeling sorry for yourself, blaming yourself for things beyond your control, being angry at others, the world, yourself. Don’t experiment with being alone, unless you have a “Plan B,” which means, that if you start feeling miserable, there is an alternate plan in place. See below.
Thirdly, use these days to do something special that you wanted to do, but due to work and other pressures, couldn’t. Work-wise this is typically a quiet week, and you might have the time you need, like visiting a friend, a museum, a place you wanted to see but never got yourself there.
Fourth, let’s talk about drinking. Typically during this time, drinking alcohol is part of the fun, the custom, the tradition. Indeed, it can be fun, but it has its perils. Too much of a good thing, especially if you’re by yourself. It may be difficult to resist, but if you drink, keep it in check. If you were to get drunk and sick in the company of others, they’ll help and protect you from harm, such as falling. If you’re by yourself, that can be unpleasant, even dangerous, and surely, no fun.
So what kind of plans can you make?
There are different categories of passing time: one includes getting things done – those that have been postponed forever, filing, for example, and the other includes doing something for pleasure. One could spend the first part of Christmas Eve taking care of that forever-postponed task, knowing that later in the day-evening, there is a plan to be with people. That way you can make the best of both.
People who have no family or friends nearby, can still reach them by phone, email, text, Facebook and all the social media. A time to reach each other can, and should, be set aside beforehand and then done as planned. For example: “I’m calling my sister at 8PM.”
Even individuals who swear “I have nobody” to be with, actually do. It is a matter of a mindset. It may be true that there is no real good friend, but you know someone in a similar position, a co-worker, for example, who makes the same claim, and it is exactly two such people who can keep each other company. That could mean bringing in fried chicken and watching TV.
Then there are the public places; the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Soup kitchens, churches, senior citizen centers, community centers, who are open and are specifically geared to, and prepared to feed, host, and celebrate together. You may not know anyone in particular, but the hosts are always warm and welcoming. It makes them feel good to make other people feel good. Go there. Consider being a host yourself. Helping out can be very comforting and satisfying, and something to look forward to. But, check out in advance, where, what hours and how to get there. Sometimes phones are not answered late on holidays, (because the office is closed,) so be prepared to know where and how to get there, whenever you feel you don’t want to be alone.
As to the pleasing things you could think of, anything from reading, seeing a movie with someone – doesn’t have to be your best friend – traveling to a resort or inexpensive guest house. You can do fun things right near where you live, or go far away. You can go to church, even if you’re not Christian, be with people, hear music, and hear people sing beautiful songs. Treat yourself to something special. Might be an experience you usually can’t justify, or an electronic gadget. If money is an issue, you can get grey bargains in Goodwill stores, used but clean and like new.
Men are prone to be even lonelier than women, who have a natural gift of socializing and keeping in touch by phone, often, for hours. Men’s telephone conversations usually last less than a minute. “See you at 6,” that’s it. It is therefore important for men to make plans in advance, because in all likelihood, a long telephone chat to break up feeling alone, isn’t going to just happen. If your friends congregate around sports related activities and beer plan where that’s going to be for you. Call an old buddy, make arrangements.
For individuals with PTSD, holidays with all the tumult, bright, flickering lights, deep voice “Ho, Ho, HO’s” can be very unpleasant, and could drive them away from crowds, into home. There it might be very quiet, too quiet. That’s exactly the time to be with someone, one or more, like a veterans club. It is there where you can share with the others why you don’t like the crowded, noisy scene that most people love. Yes, you want to be with people, but few, and not so noisy.
During the days between the two peaks; Christmas and New Year’s, act like business as usual, i.e. nothing special to worry about, a regular week. In other words, try not to spend the week after Christmas worrying what it will be like on New Year’s Eve and Day. Have a plan, and then implement it.
There may well be cheers in unexpected places and with unexpected people.
Photo: Flickr/Tri Nguyen