How do you handle the holidays when you’re not where you want to be? The reality for most ANZA members is that travel will be impossible for the coming holiday season. It’s likely that being away from beloved family and friends at Christmas will amplify feelings of isolation, homesickness, longing and loneliness. How do you cope when circumstances keep you away from the traditional family gathering in the festive season?
1.Acknowledge the significance
It can be easy to dismiss the impact a special holiday can have on the intensity of your emotions. But that one date on a calendar can make an enormous difference. Acknowledge that the influence of distance is greater at this time of year and understand that extra self-care will be needed to help you keep your emotional equilibrium.
A long day of ‘nothingness’ can only increase your likelihood of feeling lonely and broody. So, be prepared. Fill your day with pre-organised activities and events. You’ll wake with a sense of purpose, spend the day in delightful distraction and, hopefully, fall into bed exhausted.
3.Formulate, don’t emulate
Resist the temptation to recreate hometown traditions. Trying to follow the same traditions or cook the same food will only amplify the difference in culture, ingredients and/or companions and highlight the divide between “there” and “here”. Instead, invent new, more achievable celebrations that are fun, fulfilling and location-friendly. This will not only negate the constant reminder that you are far from home, but you will create life-long memories and fun anecdotes for the future (“Do you remember our Singapore Christmas when we …”).
Loneliness is always the result of disconnection; a sense of being apart from others, or not belonging. Therefore, make meaningful connection an important part of your day. Celebrate with friends that you know well or socialise with people you would like to know better. Spend time with the underprivileged of Singapore, bond with your immediate family or simply get out and consciously connect with nature. Gift yourself the feeling of valuing something or someone outside of yourself and being valued in return.
No external factor can ever “make” you feel good about the day; nobody around you is responsible for your happiness or enjoyment. It’s vital for your own wellbeing that you practice acceptance and gratitude to the best of your ability. Sure, you may experience moments of sadness or isolation over the holiday period – this is to be expected – but if you make a conscious effort to be grateful for what you have (however small and insignificant) you will find you always have a foundation of happiness to return to.
Kim Forrester is a holistic wellbeing author, consultant and educator.