So You’re Alone on Christmas, Hannukah, Kwaanza, Ramadan. How to Get Over The Holiday Blues–PART II
Why am I alone on the Holidays?
THIS IS THE SECOND INSTALLMENT IN A 2-PART BLOG. PART I discussed all of the negative thoughts and reactions people can have on the holidays. To read Part I go to: https://bestfriendlife.blog/2019/12/26/so-you-are-alone-on-christmas-hannukah-kwaanza-ramadan-how-to-get-over-the-holiday-blues-part-1/
So it’s Christmas. Or it’s Hanukkah. Or Kwanzaa or Ramadan. Either for the first time or as an annual pattern, you’re all by yourself. No one has invited you to any holiday gatherings. No one is checking on you. You’re all alone.
Maybe you recently moved. Perhaps your friends have moved on to other cities or states or countries.
Maybe you’ve been in a fight or disagreement with family members. The person that you usually spent the holidays with has recently died or has faded from your life.
Perhaps your lover or life partner is now gone and has taken all your mutual friends with them.
Whatever the reason, you are alone again. Self-pity, extreme sadness, and disappointment in others.
You might even go so far as to blame yourself and even shame yourself.
HELP IS ON THE WAY!
As a life coach and therapist for over 25 years, I’ve seen lots of clients experience intense levels of stress during the holiday season.
So in the spirit of giving, I’d like to give you some tips and that will allow you experience joy, gratitude, and to help you achieve a level of acceptance. At the same time, I hope to help motivate you so that this year’s holiday and the holidays in years to come are filled with meaningful connections and experiences.
We’re going to take a two-pronged approach. In Part I (see link near top of article) we talked about the mental and emotional elements that may be bringing you down. Now here in Part II, we look at some new behaviors that you can experiment with to increase your happiness over the holidays
NOTHING IS ANYTHING BUT THINKING MAKES IT SO
Let’s take a look at the different behavioral changes that can help you reduce the Holiday Blues.
Firs,t start a Thought Journal in which you write down all of your self-blaming thoughts, people blaming thoughts, and life blaming thoughts. look at those thoughts and try to identify within those blaming thoughts one or more of these commands
1. I must be perfect (and if I’m not, I’m a worm, worthless, etc)
2. He/She/They must be nice and fair (and if she’s not she’s awful, horrible, terrible)
3. The world should be an easier place for me to live in. (and if it’s not, this is a terrible place to live)
Then look for counter-evidence for these ideas. Argue strongly as if you were arguing with a friend who was blaming him / her self, other people or life itself.
If you do this thoroughly and with strong arguments against the SHOULDS, you will find yourself feeling better! Not 100% better but possibly 80 or 90% better. Remember you don’t want to feel you are in a blissed-out Nirvana when you are disconnected from everyone. you still want to respond to the signal that says ‘I want to connect.’
Now once you’ve done this thorough ‘SHOULD dispute’, and you’ve come up with a more realistic statement about loneliness on the holidays, for example, “well I wish I had made stronger connections and I will increase my efforts connect with others, but I can still accept myself as a valuable human being even when no one is with me.
Next, check your feelings. Are you feeling better? If not, look for the hidden SHOULDS you are still clinging to and dispute, dispute, dispute by seeking counter-evidence.
ITS A FOOL WHO PLAYS IT COOL BY MAKING HIS WORLD A LITTLE COLDER
Next, it’s time to get to work setting up some practical real-life goals.
COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis on any current ‘friendship effort avoidance.’ Draw a line down the center of a sheet of paper. On the left side write the costs maintaining your current level of ‘friendship effort.’ On the right side write the benefits of staying the same as you have been.
Pull out a second sheet and do another Cost-Benefit Analysis of increasing your efforts to meet new friends or nurture current friendships. what is the cost to you i.e. negatives, and what is the benefit of increasing your efforts.
Next, it’s time to work on Relaxation Techniques. Yoga, meditation, exercise. Can’t get out of the house? Turn on YouTube and find videos that guide you through the process. All of these physical behaviors help to produce ‘good feeling’ chemicals in your body.
Distraction is okay. Open up your laptop, turn on your TV, download a podcast on your phone. Or if it’s not too maudlin, turn on some music. It’s okay to distract yourself right now as you move through an uncomfortable time.
BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE:
Holiday Role Play:
Imagine that you are the opposite of sad or lonely. You can even imagine yourself as a well-known character in fiction who embodies happiness and connection and contentment. Write down a full description of how you would walk, talk, and act and think. Rehearse this in your mind imagine you are that person for the next few weeks. reread that self-description daily.
Finally, sit down with a sheet of paper and Brainstorm for 10 or 15 minutes on ways to improve your social connections. Don’t try to edit. Just write all possibilities down now and you can eliminate the improbable options later. Then after you’ve looked over your list and a few options, open up your calendar and schedule a time to pursue these options.
LEND A HELPING HAND
Things you can do to help you this season.
First, volunteering at a charity or a Food Kitchen to help those less fortunate.
Visit FoodPantries.org to find food pantries looking for help in your area.
Build Homes with Habitat For Humanity
If you’re located in warmer climates, a really good way to volunteer as a group is connecting with your local Habitat For Humanity chapter.
Send out a Message of Love
More Love Letters is a letter writing campaign that originated in New York. The idea is to send anonymous love letters to people who are going through a difficult time.
Adopt a Family
You can ‘adopt a family’ to buy Christmas presents for. You can usually set this up through your local Salvation Army Angel Tree branch https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/brighten-the-holidays/ or a community center such as a Boys and Girls Club.
Second, take a risk and reach out to family and those you consider to be your friends even if you feel there not being supportive right now. After you have evaluated any potential irrational demands that you be perfect, that others love and care for you all the time, and that life be hassle free obstacle free… Let them know if you are feeling down or lonely and that it would be nice to talk to them for a little while.
Third, consider who in your life might actually be even more alone then you are right now. is there anybody you can think of it might also need some companionship. Perhaps they may be socially awkward or have difficulty connecting with other people. Think about switching roles from the guest in life to the host in life. Reach out to those people and see if you can help them too feel a little better over the holidays.
And finally… Don’t Hesitate to Ask For Help
As always if you feel the need for professional help, actively pursue a coach or counselor who is versed in CBT or REBT therapy.
And of course if you are feeling truly despondent Let people know. If you don’t want anyone in your life to know then you can call a crisis hotline. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – For youth and adults is
(800) 273-TALK (8255)
I hope you will try some of these techniques to eliminate the Holiday Blues. In closing I will share with you with a few wise words from the poem Desiderata.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here…
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
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©2019 Ross Grossman, MA, LMFT
Affinity Therapy Services