Christian Counselor Seattle
The pandemic and other viruses have kept people from gathering together during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Perhaps it was your house that everyone gathered in every year. Or it was the only time you got to travel home to visit your extended family.
In these cases, loneliness and depression can make the days seem longer and joy scarce. But you can cope with these emotions while enjoying the Christmas holiday.
Ways to beat loneliness and depression over the holidays.
There are several ways that you can beat loneliness and depression this season. Some of these activities you can do solo. Other activities are doable by yourself, but you may want to invite others who are not surrounded by family during the holidays. What about the single mom or dad who does not have their children this Christmas due to a co-parenting agreement? Or the older person at your church whose children live far away?
Fight depression with routines and healthy habits.
One way to fight depression is to stick to a routine. Depression tends to make us want to sleep too little or too much. As a result, it throws our appetites off and keeps us from wanting to engage with others. By keeping a routine, you force yourself to bed at a decent hour and get up in time for work. In addition, a routine ensures that the livable parts of your home stay clean and that you shop and prepare meals.
Taking time to exercise consistently will also boost your mood. It does not have to be for an extended sweat session for you to reap the benefits. You can start with simple five or ten-minute walks and increase your time or choose a workout video online.
Journal to acknowledge your emotions.We do not like to feel uncomfortable. We do whatever we can to avoid pain. Loneliness and depression make us uncomfortable and force us to sit with our thoughts. Some thoughts are negative, but a few reflect something in our lives. Take the opportunity to examine the thoughts connected to these emotions. Do you need to self-reflect on recent changes?
The act of journaling allows you to acknowledge your emotions. It gives you a place to express the loneliness and depression, the anger or bitterness, the happiness and joy. A journal is your safe space.
Talk with your children.
If your children are grown or stay elsewhere during the holidays, you may be alone. Stay connected with your kids using technology. You can use video technology to call and see their smiling faces. Younger children love to use technology to create videos and share them with their parents and grandparents. Video calls enable us to feel like we are in the room with our loved ones that live miles or continents away.
Even if you do not use video, be sure to call and exchange photos with your loved ones. Having consistent communication makes us forget that it may have been days, weeks, or months since we have seen our family members.
Connect with others online, but watch your time on social media.
Connecting with friends and loved ones online can help your relationships grow and make you feel less lonely. However, social media can worsen depression if you spend too much time scrolling through your newsfeed.
Social media allows us to share the highlights of our lives as well as edited and filtered photos. Social platforms become problematic when we compare ourselves to friends or influencers.
Negative body image, eating disorders, and depression can stem from the emotions birthed from spending too much time looking into the edited version of other people’s lives. Message your close friends and family, check in on a few people, but keep your time scrolling through social media to a bare minimum for your mental well-being.
Socialize (in real life).
Do you socialize with others outside of social platforms? Sometimes we rely on digital media to be our only communication with the outside world but to lead a healthy life, you need to make friends in the “real world.” This could mean attending church or joining groups in your community to meet new people.
Most communities hold events or host groups for hobbyists. In addition, you may find a women’s or men’s club, a club for senior citizens, book clubs, weight loss group classes, or groups for any hobby or interest. Community events are also great for meeting people and engaging in conversations. Check out your local newspaper or online for announcements.
To help lift depression, find volunteer opportunities in your community where you can serve others. Loneliness and depression can turn our focus inward. By doing acts of service for other people, you exhibit kindness and empathy. You begin to feel love for your job when you see how a simple act can affect people.
If you attend church, check with the leaders in charge of volunteers to see where you are needed. Or you can stop by charities like food banks, homeless shelters, or back-to-school or toy drives. If you have a particular set of skills that can be useful, consider offering your services. For example, if you work in construction or carpentry, you would probably be an asset to a group that builds houses for low-income families.
You probably have traditions from childhood or young adulthood that you still break out during the holidays. For example, was there a specific dish you served on Thanksgiving? Did you eat fruitcake for breakfast on Christmas morning or ring in the New Year with a glass of eggnog?It is important to meld the tradition that brought you joy by creating new traditions for yourself. For example, continue making your mother’s sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving. Maybe make a new tradition of calling your family for a video chat on Christmas Eve while drinking eggnog. Or start attending your church’s Christmas Eve service; better yet, offer to serve or perform during the special service.
Recognize that no one’s life is a Hallmark movie.
As you settle in to do things you enjoy during the holidays, whether reliving an old tradition or creating a new tradition for yourself, more than likely, you will want to watch a Christmas movie or two (or more). But remember, no one’s real life is like a Christmas movie.
Those fantastic movies and television shows portray people with perfect homes, clothes, hair, and spouses. It can leave anyone feeling self-conscious about themselves. It is purely an escape mechanism – something we all need from time to time. Enjoy your movies, but recognize that they take place in a fictitious world. Everyone has problems. Everyone feels lonely or sad during challenging seasons. If you need help, reach out for help today.
When the holidays are hard.
Sometimes the only thing we can do is remember that God is with us even in the loneliest times. As Jesus stepped closer to the cross, He felt profound loneliness; none of His disciples understood what He was sent here to do until he was done. No one could do Jesus’ job for Him.
Yet, Jesus knew that God was with Him. God is walking through this season of loneliness and depression with you too. He knows your heart better than any friend ever could. Spend time in prayer and praise this holiday season to lift your mood and grow closer to God.
Consider contacting a Christian counselor if you believe this holiday season is too hard or you want to get ahead of your emotions and negative thoughts before facing the holidays.
“Christmas Ornaments”, Courtesy of Reuben Teo, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Holly Berries”, Courtesy of Eugene Zhyvchik, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Thinking”, Courtesy of Nubelson Fernandes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Bible and Journal”, Courtesy of Carolyn V, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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