You’re not being a Grinch if the thought of Christmas doesn’t fill you with joy. The big holidays, specifically the ones focused on family togetherness such as Christmas and Easter, can be a challenging time for many people.
You may be isolated from your family, whether it be through an estrangement, or because they live far away. You may not have any family members at all, and your friends may be busy with their own families.
Whether you want to spend the holidays surrounded by people or by yourself, there are a number of ways in which you can make it an enjoyable, rather than a sad, time.
Connect with family
If your family members live in another state or country, they might not be able to come down to visit. If that’s the case, arrange to chat to them over Skype or FaceTime. These apps are free and easy to use; and did you know, there are government subsidy packages available for devices such as ipads including showing you how to set up an account with the express purpose of staying in touch! Go here to see if you’re eligible.
Seeing the faces of your loved ones can help you feel like you’re there in person. Otherwise a phone call is always a good option. As Christmas is such a busy period for people, you may want to arrange a time for the call in advance, so that neither of you will be pushed for time. Keep time differences in mind as well.
Be mindful of your social media use over the holidays
While the internet can connect people, be wary that social media also has the tendency to make people feel left out. Especially around family orientated events such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Facebook and Instagram feeds tend to be filled with lots of positive posts about people’s families. While that can be nice to see, it can also trigger feelings of sadness and jealousy if you don’t have a good, or any, relationship with your own family. Therefore it can be worth taking a break from social media during this period. Then again, scrolling through your feed may help you feel part of the action, rather than being isolated. Whether you stay online or step away from it temporarily, be conscious of the feelings social media can illicit.
Embrace your community during the holidays
‘Family’ doesn’t just have to mean the people you’re related to by blood. Your friends can fill this role, and they might be able to spend time with you over this period or invite you to join in on their celebration. Many people feel too embarrassed to admit they’re lonely and balk at the idea of asking if you can be part of someone’s event, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Your friends may be unaware that you’re feeling this way and would be happy to include you.
There are also community events you can participate in, such as communal Christmas Day lunches, so check in with your local council or church.
Companion care is also a great way to meet new people and boost social interaction. Besides assisting with daily activities, companion carers also regularly pop in for a chat, help organise appointments but more importantly help provide access to social outings and activities- all tailored to what you want!
Talk about your feelings- estrangement
A family estrangement isn’t rare, although they’re rarely talked about in the open. This can make you feel ashamed, especially if you’ve experienced judgement from others when you’ve tried to talk about your situation in the past. Talking to someone you feel comfortable with, whether it’s an open-minded friend, a carer or your GP, can be really helpful in expressing your emotions, which may have been bottled up for years. There are also online support groups and forums, focused on family estrangement, such as Beyond Blue, which can make you realise that you’re not alone.