The holiday season can be a tough time to be away from family. These five tips can help anyone spending the holidays away from family to thrive in the midst of the season.
1. Accept invitations to celebrate with friends, or host your own party. You don’t have to be a great cook or have a fancy or immaculately clean house to have people over to celebrate and spend time with one another. Ask each friend to bring a food item to share and a favorite board game, or host a movie marathon, or make and decorate cookies together. Put on some music and get a few snacks from a store.
2. If possible, continue traditions your family has or create new traditions that suit the location and season you are in. Ask people around you what their traditions are if you need ideas. Traditions are easy ways to transport a bit of home to wherever your new home is and can help you feel more grounded during the holiday season away from home. Almost anything can become a tradition - from the places you go during the holiday, food you eat, movies you watch, or decorations you put up. Remember traditions are for fun and don’t have to be followed to the letter to still be traditions. Be creative, and find substitutes for things that you may not have in your new location.
3. Around the holidays, many people often will open up their homes to others as well. As awkward as you may feel talking about it, let others know you can’t be with family during the holidays. If someone invites you to their celebration, take them up on their offer. They may be blessing you by inviting you, but you may also be able to bless the family by being present at their celebration.
4. Take good care of yourself. Journal when you’re homesick. Listen to music, get some extra rest, or spend some time on a hobby. It is tough to spend holidays away from family, so give yourself extra grace and care around the holidays. If you can, find time to go for a walk outside to get some sun and fresh air. Just getting out and doing something can keep your mind busy and out of a rut. Remember, it is natural and okay to feel sad or homesick during holidays spent away from family. Talk with a friend about how you’re feeling, and take time to care for yourself during this time that can be emotionally stressful.
5. Video chat or Skype family if you can. Just seeing family and hearing them can help ease some of the homesickness. Putting together a care package to send to family can be a fun way to feel connected and part of the fun around the holidays. If possible, have the family open your gifts over Skype so you can see their reactions. Finding ways to join your family in spirit during the holidays can help both you and them to thrive even during holidays spent apart.
* Content based off of an interview with GRC Counselor, Erik