-by Rianna Jamieson
We like to think of the holiday season (for purposes of this blog, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day) as a time of frivolity and happiness, but for many of us, the holidays are filled with dread and sadness; homesickness, if you will. Homesickness can take many forms. Aside from the way we typically think of being homesick, that is being far away from family, friends, and home, many people are wistful for what they wish the holidays could be or they’re nostalgic for the way the holidays used to be.
For those people who experience homesickness or general malaise during the holidays, the easiest thing to do may be to ignore the season all together through isolation or substance use. Although isolating oneself and abusing drugs or alcohol are coping skills, they are not particularly healthy coping skills. If you find yourself feeling homesick or depressed, try one of these six healthy coping skills to make the holidays a little more joyful.
1. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude
During this time of year, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what we are missing and forget what’s right in front of us. It’s important to remember the gifts that life has given us. By practicing gratitude for the good in our lives, we can draw our focus away from the sadness and homesickness we may feel around the season. Thanksgiving may be over, but it doesn’t mean we should stop giving thanks. Gratitude targets the feeling of true thankfulness towards the world. The best part is it’s infectious! Showing appreciation to the ones we love (no matter how far away they may be) is catchy, making everyone involved genuinely grateful for what they have.
2. Build New Traditions
One of the most common triggers of homesickness is a break from tradition. This year, try making new traditions or add your own twist onto an old favorite. Watch the new Christmas movie with a friend in the theatre or an old one in bed with yummy snacks and cozy blankets. Go to your city’s most predictable holiday hangouts or its most hidden ones! There are always 1,001 things to eat, watch, and do wherever you are in the world.
3. Embrace the Power of Going Solo
There is something to be said for the power that can be found in going solo. For me, nothing quite beats a long walk through the city, music blaring in my ears and camera in hand, refusing to miss a single moment of what’s around me.
4. Help Others
Take some time to volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit residents at a nursing home, help your neighbor with some pre-winter chores, or organize a gift drive. One of the greatest benefits of helping others is the boost that it gives us.
5. Make Some Art
Art takes many forms. Make a snowman or a snow angel. Draw a Zentangle. Bake some cookies. Write a letter. Pretend your hairbrush is a microphone and dance in your living room, singing your favorite songs.
6. Get Help
If your sadness is more than an isolated incident or is accompanied by suicidal thoughts, please get help.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Call 911.
- Call your therapist or go to the emergency room immediately.
While the holidays may never feel like a Hallmark movie, they can be less painful. We hope these tips will help you feel a little better, so when the holidays come around next year, you’ll feel a bit less homesick.