For many people – the elderly, empty nesters and those unable to connect with distant relatives and friends, the season can be quite lonely, triggering feelings of isolation, emptiness and grief. The good news is, clinical depression decreases during the holidays. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of people feeling less than joyous. This season, if you’re planning to be alone, here are some tips to help you shake the holiday blues.
Do Something Charitable Who says the holidays have to be spent sitting around a table eating or watching television specials? If you find yourself alone this season, why not do something completely unexpected like volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen or help deliver presents to disadvantaged children through a toy drive? Taking time to help those who have less than you is an easy way to boost the spirits and lighten a heavy heart during the holidays. Engaging with happy, motivated people who are focused on helping others is the perfect way to re-direct negative thoughts that can cause depression, stress and loneliness. Ghandi had it right when he recalled the best way to lose oneself is through service to others.
Get Up and Move The physical benefits of exercise are well known. But in addition to maintaining a healthy body weight, increasing muscle strength and improving flexibility, physical activity has powerful stress busting and mood boosting benefits. It has to do with the production of endorphins, or the brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitters. Movement of any kind triggers an increase, which leaves you feeling optimistic, energetic and self-confident. The holidays are an excellent time to embrace a new fitness routine, regardless of skill level. Simple and low key or aggressive, move your body and you’ll reduce symptoms of depression, ease stress and find it much easier to face the holidays alone.
Get Productive If holiday parties and festive celebrations aren’t your thing and distant relatives and far away friends won’t be visiting, why not use the alone time to get more done? We all have a list filled with home projects and tasks we never seem to have the time to start. Busy projects like cleaning out the pantry closet, reorganizing the garage, even painting a spare bedroom can provide purpose and a sense of accomplishment in a job well done. The holiday doldrums will fade in time, but keeping yourself busy, challenged and focused on the task is an easy way to deflect sadness and drop in mood that often accompanies the idea of experiencing the holidays solo.
If you are planning to be alone this season, don’t let forced glee and festiveness get you down. Banish the blahs and boost your spirits by taking part in a meaningful charitable act, embracing exercise and getting productive for a happier, healthier you.