The holidays can be a joyous, special time to celebrate good health, friends, and everything wonderful in our lives. But if your health is not good, or friends are in short supply, maybe nothing seems wonderful, and there’s little joy to be found.
This is not an uncommon phenomenon around the holidays, especially in a place like Steamboat Springs where lots of residents are away from their families, friends are just acquaintances (for now), and you’re surrounded by scores of visitors who are having the vacation of a lifetime. So what to do? Here’s some advice that will make your Joyous Festivus more than bearable . . . maybe even turn it to happy!
If you find yourself comparing your holiday with those of the past, you’re feeding your misery. If you measure by what others seem to be doing, it will add to your dark mood. Stop it. It is what it is. Make the best of what you have.
Get perspective. You’re in a great community in a great place in a great country. Millions of people would trade places with you in a minute!
Nobody to join for the Big Feast? Wrong! Steamboat Community Center has your holiday dinner with all the trimmings, where you’ll meet scores of people who may be your future friends.
Take a hike (or ski, or swim). Get out there, no moping! Nature is a wonderful, healing companion, and this is a great time to enjoy it. If you’re heading out (cross-country ski, hiking, snow-shoeing), make sure you go with someone else, even if you just meet them at the trailhead (safety first!).
Fill the day. Treat yourself to whatever little pleasures you enjoy, like a NetFlix binge on Coen Brothers or Monte Python, popcorn included. And yeah, chocolate . . . what the hell. You may be creating a new tradition!
Loneliness and disconnection from traditions are not the only reasons some people find the holiday season difficult. Here are some other circumstances that can make the season of joy a real challenge—and ideas to help.
Lost your job? Going through a break-up? Lease is up? Hey, these are big deals, no doubt about that, and if one or more is darkening your holiday, it is normal to feel depressed. When everyone around you seems so happy, it can make it worse.
Be with people if you can. Sitting alone ruminating about your problem is likely to dig the hole deeper and darker. Call a friend, neighbor, workmate, or ? to see if they’re doing something you can be a part of (there’s a risk of a “no” making it worse, but if you’re prepared for that, keep trying). Good techniques? Bake cookies, then share. Bring your neighbor’s dog a bone.
Help others. It just feels good, and takes your mind off your troubles. See if you can help feed the community at the Community Christmas Dinner. If you know someone who’s homeless, make sure they’re taken care of. Don’t know anyone to give to? Get out your device and give a some chickens to a family in Sudan ($20: Heifer.org), or loan $25 to a needy entrepreneur in Tajikistan or Cambodia (Kiva.org). Now you feel better. Good on you.
This is not permanent. Remember that. Life is full of ebbs and flows, ups and downs, happys and sads. When it all comes crushing down on you, remember one good time in the past for every dip into the gloom. Really, one for one. And know there’ll be plenty of good ones ahead. Guaranteed.
Worries and stuff
Maybe you’ve got health problems, or are concerned about a loved one’s health. Financial worries can dampen your holiday mood as well, as can .
Health concerns are best helped by knowing the information you need to know. Remind yourself the doctor is on it, or you’ll do what you can about the money situation after the holiday. All your imaginings will not help the outcome one iota. Be in the Now.
Get your mind on something else. Bake some cookies (and offer them to strangers on the bus). Shovel someone’s sidewalk. Watch football. Read a page-turner. Clip your fingernails. Make your bed.
Be grateful. Jot a list of things you’re thankful for, and don’t skimp. Even when things seem dire, there’s plenty to appreciate. That emaciated and toothless child on the TV charity appeal is real.