“It made me feel like I was still there, able to share in the festivities.”
Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. And I’m pretty darn pumped because it’s fast approaching!
I’m one of those people who get way too into the holiday spirit. As I write this, I’m sitting in a living room with command-hooked stockings on the wall, more than one vase of poinsettias, and both garlands and a bedecked Christmas tree. I have hot chocolate and marshmallows in the pantry and whipped cream chillin’ in the fridge. I’m telling you – I go all out.
But in reality, Christmas is really important to me because of my childhood. My family had so many traditions. We always went to church, saw lots of family, and spent tons of time together catching up and laughing. It was truly special.
Not everyone has a big family to gather with or certain traditions they follow, but I love that the holidays (whatever holidays it is you celebrate) are a time to slow down and enjoy the company of those you care about most. Which is why I really struggled with working Christmas Eve and Christmas day my first year out of college.
Suddenly, I was thrown into “adult world”. No one cared about my personal priorities – I had to be at work to keep my job. I’m a nurse, and people don’t just stop being sick during the holidays.
And this post has been prompted because although I won’t work on Christmas this year, I work the day after and cannot travel home to see family until a little while later.
There are lots of jobs that require people to work over holidays. And in general, there are lots of reasons you may not be able to spend a holiday with the ones you love. It may be work, but it may also be distance, financial concerns, illness, disputes, etc. Whatever the reason, it can definitely contribute to what’s become known as the “holiday blues”.
Now the holiday blues, or holiday depression, is a separate entity that I just want to mention. It pertains to feeling down around the holidays, and could be attributed to a variety of reasons. Certainly one reason could be separation from your loved ones, but others may have to do with any number of various holiday-time stressors or even gloomy, cold weather. Being around drama-filled family members could even cause this feeling.
It’s really important to acknowledge your emotions around holiday-time and take steps to reduce stress if you start to feel overwhelmed or depressed. Reach out to others and talk to them about how you’re feeling. Because this is a becoming a very well-known thing, and the holidays should be an enjoyable time for you!
While my list below will mostly pertain to being away from family, if you’re suffering from the holiday blues you may still be able to get some insight from what I share!
How to Cope with a Holiday Away from Family
Stay in touch
Even if you can’t be there physically with your family or friends, you can always try a phone call or message to stay in touch. Even though I was far from my family his past Thanksgiving, I was able to talk with various family members for close to an hour as they passed the phone around. For the rest of the day my mom sent me pictures. It made me feel like I was still there, able to share in the festivities.
So if you would otherwise be visiting with someone, reach out to them during the holidays. It makes you feel like you still got a piece of that experience.
Send letters or gifts
You can always send letters or gifts as well! Or maybe you’re missing someone in the military who is stationed far away – a care package would be a great way to tell them you’re thinking of them. If a package is a little too expensive to send, a card always shows you care as well.
Take time to do something you love
If you have the day off, that’s great! Queue up the holiday-themed movies or shows, eat holiday foods, and do holiday activities! For example, for Christmas this year you can bet I’ll be spending the day in my comfiest PJ’s, watching The Holiday, baking Christmas cookies, and dressing my dog in ridiculous Santa costumes.
If you do work, try to make the day special in some way. Wear something festive, bring a treat to share with coworkers, or play some music – whatever’s allowed! And in your small amount of time off, try to do something you love to keep the holiday feeling like the holiday. It doesn’t have to be ALL work!
Plan something to look forward to
While it may not be able to be in the near future, like my trip to visit my family, think of something coming up that puts a smile on your face. It could be a trip, a move, a concert, a wedding, a hangout with friends, a plan to adopt a new pet – anything you have to look forward to! Because when I’m hit by the blues – not even just the holiday blues – it helps to know that something more enjoyable is approaching.
Find a way to give back
Just as I said before, not everything stops because of a holiday. People can still go hungry, pets are still in shelters, and the homeless can still be cold. If you are able this holiday season, try to give back in some way. Even if you can’t spend time with your family, by volunteering or donating you are contributing to the holiday spirit. It can be a very meaningful way to spend your holiday.
Keep yourself healthy
While it may be tempting to binge on comfort foods and wallow in your sadness, instead try to invest some time into keeping yourself healthy. After all, this is prime cold and flu season time. Get plenty of exercise – I can’t even begin to express how much I love exercise for mental wellness. No matter what kind of day you’ve had, a good dose of cardio always seems to do the trick. Be sure to eat lots of fruits and vegetables too – an extra boost to the immune system will only help you stay healthy and be able to actually enjoy this time of year. Check out this post for more healthy holiday eating ideas.
Start a new tradition
Whether you’re by yourself, with a significant other, or with a friend, try starting a new tradition! Find something cool going on in the area and go for it. Or reuse an old tradition and make it your own. The opportunities are endless and can make the holiday that much more special.
Whether with your loved ones or not, feeling the holiday blues or resembling the jolly Santa Claus himself, I wish you the happiest and healthiest of holidays! It’s hard when your plans get shattered or your traditions have to change. It’s part of how the world works and part of being an adult – I’ve unfortunately come to realize. But by doing the things above, I’m still able to enjoy my holidays regardless of my circumstances. I sincerely hope you will be able to as well!
Happiest of holidays!