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The Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays are right around the corner, and now is the perfect time to decide if you plan to enjoy yourself as the year ends, or if you are going to suffer through holiday depression with your head down.
15 Ways to Conquer the Threat of Holiday Depression
Perhaps you are someone who is recently divorced, was laid off at your job, or your spouse or one of your parents just passed away. Maybe you have moved to a new city but haven’t made any new friends yet, or maybe your work has you scheduled for an out-of-town trip. Or, it could be that you are just a carefree millennial who wants to use your vacation time to travel somewhere new for the holidays.
Whatever the reason that causes you to be alone, you can still find ways to enjoy the holidays. Are you going to sit around the house (or hotel) and feel sorry for yourself, or are you going to be bold and try something new? Will you be crying of loneliness inside when Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve rolls around, or are you going to go out dancing and make your own music?
Here are some easy ways to cope with the possibility of holiday depression and to emerge as a winner after it’s all over:
1. Stay busy around the house (or hotel)
The first rule for fighting loneliness is to stay busy. Keep active and try not to sit around the house or wherever you are. If you have time off, clean out your clothes or your closets, start a new project. Decorate for the holidays. Don’t vegetate in front of the TV or computer. Keep moving. If you are traveling, look for somewhere new to explore and something new to do.
2. Get out in nature
Head for a hiking trail, strap on your helmet and go for a bike ride, or a jog around the neighborhood. Or, take a drive somewhere new, or go back to a familiar place. Get your exercise, because exercise is one of the easier ways to feel better fast. If you are somewhere new, now is the time to get out and explore your new surroundings.
3. Do something creative
Explore some ideas for doing crafts. Maybe you can find a new way to decorate your home. Make something beautiful. You can always find someone that would love to receive a homemade gift. Or, you could make something for yourself. Learn to crochet, sew, or paint a picture. There are plenty of easy crafts you can do. Or, bake cookies, make a pie, or put together an old family recipe. Better yet, try a new recipe!
4. Connect with someone you know
Don’t isolate yourself from the world, especially if you live alone. Go out to dinner, go dancing, or go see a movie. Spend time with new friends or old friends, or both. It is so important to reach out to those around you, when you feel lonely. Even if you are in a new place, you can find people to talk to and be around. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, just hop on the computer and send out some emails. Stay connected and I guarantee you will feel better.
5. Rest, relax and reward yourself
Use your time off for relaxation. Get a massage, take a yoga class, or learn to meditate. If you are away from home, you can usually find a spa or pool to relax in. There are so many easy ways to de-stress. And remember to reward yourself. If there is no one to buy you a present this year, buy yourself something. Go shopping for something you have wanted for a long time. It can be something big, or small. What matters is that you want to do something to help yourself feel better.
6. Think about the good times
When you spend time just chilling, try to focus on the good times you have had in the past few years. Don’t allow yourself to have negative thoughts. If you start to get depressed, do something to take your mind off everything. Read a book, watch a movie or learn to play an instrument. Do what you need to do to escape the past if it is painful to think about. It can be difficult not to dwell on the past, but the present moment is where you want to be.
7. Help someone in need
Look around you, and find someone who needs help with something- anything at all. This is easy to do. You can find people anywhere that you can help, even in small ways. If you see someone carrying something heavy, lend a hand. Offer to help, when you see an opportunity. When you give your time and efforts toward helping someone else, even if it’s a perfect stranger, you will undoubtedly take your mind off your own problems and feel better inside.
8. Don’t beat yourself up about your mistakes
Don’t waste time thinking about all the things you did wrong in your past relationship, or your past job, or what you should have done for your parents. Avoid blaming yourself or them for how you feel. Blaming someone only makes you feel worse. You have the power to decide how you want to feel right now. The most positive way to deal with the past is to just let it all go and move on.
9. Cherish the small things
If you remember to just live and breath in the present moment, you will naturally find ways to appreciate the simple things of life. Relish the small things, like sitting down to dinner, listening to your favorite songs, soaking in the bathtub, or going for a walk. Maybe you could get a bird bath for your patio or backyard. You can have fun feeding the birds and watching them gather and play in it. Lift your head up and look around you. Breathe the air. Notice how it feels to be alive. Sit in the sun. Find small ways to celebrate and cherish your day.
10. Do something you enjoy
Fill your time with something you enjoy doing. Maybe you have a hobby or can find one that you like. It is so important to spend time everyday doing the things you enjoy most, whatever those things are. Only you can decide what you like to do. If you are alone for the first time in years, it will take some adjusting. Think about all the options available to you. Think about the possibilities that could lie ahead. If you love photography, get out and take pictures. If you love art, go see the art museum. If movies are your passion, find out what new movies are playing. Just go have fun.
11. Release any anger or resentment toward your ex wife or husband
If you find yourself feeling angry at someone for something that happened a long time ago, don’t let your anger or past relationship turmoil ruin the present. Be aware of how you feel and you should think about why you feel bad. Try to analyze the cause of your sadness. Are you sad because you are grieving, angry, upset, afraid? Figure out why you feel bad, so you can decide to work on feeling better. If you understand your emotions, it will help you change how you feel.
12. Forgive and forget the pain of the past
Concentrate on forgiveness. So many people carry resentment for past events around in their minds for years. These things are burdens to you. They are bad vibes that continually hurt you over and over. You can decide to forgive all your past hurts, from whoever or whatever caused them, and you will see how quickly those nagging negative thoughts disappear from your mind when you do. Cherish the positive memories and let the rest go.
13. Think about what you need to be happy
Make a list of all the things you need to be happy. Just write it down, so it can become more clearer to you. Be specific on this list. Write down whatever you can think of. Try to remember the last time in your life that you felt good and why you felt good. What does happiness mean to you? Do you know? Now is the best time to think about how to get there.
14. Set new goals, make new plans
What are your goals, now that your life has changed? This is the perfect time to set new goals for yourself. If you feel like you don’t really have any certain goals, now is the time to think about what they might be. Only you can decide on the goals you want. Things like going back to school, learning more about something, or going somewhere new. There are endless possibilities for the goals you can make. The sky is the limit. You have to begin reaching for the things you want right now, so you can get started on the path toward them. Only you can set these goals. No one else can tell you what they are. Follow your heart.
15. Dream of a time when life will get better
Let your mind wander in a positive direction. Try to empty your mind of the clutter. Just breathe and relax. Spend time envisioning the kind of happiness you are hoping for. Don’t be afraid to dream big. You need to visualize in your mind how you want your life to be. Dream about the things you want to happen, the kind of people you want to meet, and the type of places you want to go. Let yourself imagine a time after today when everything will be changed. Dream about it and someday you will get there.
Life is constantly changing and so are you.
If you imagine the coming holidays to be a rough time, why not turn it around and make it good instead? You never know what might happen, or what person you could meet, or what new and fun experience you can have. Change in life is always something that forces you to learn and grow in new directions. Decide that you will set out in a new and better direction and leave behind the place you are now. Things can get better if you believe they will. Have faith. Pray often. Take your first steps. Be hopeful of the future and all the possibilities there are.