When the Holidays aren’t so Happy

There’s wide-spread emphasis during the holidays to gather with family, show up at big festive parties, and generally be sociable and merry. For some people, the holidays can also mean deep depression, intense loneliness, and family drama landmines.

Lengthy lists from psychologists, self-care advocates, and wellness bloggers abound, offering tips for navigating this time of year. With no claim of ours being expert advice, we’ve picked a few suggestions to share:

Plan an Outing – Getting out of the house and into nature brings all kinds of benefit. Visit a local park or try a new hiking trail and allow yourself to really drink it in, noticing how your body, mind, and spirit begin to shift. Not outdoorsy but want to get out of the house? Check the hours of local museums and art galleries and take in their current exhibits. Or call a friend who may also be spending time alone and catch that movie you’ve both been wanting to see.

Get an Attitude. Of gratitude, that is. Pull out a notebook (or some sticky notes) and take stock of the positive things in your life. It’s hard to feel like you’re lacking while you’re making lists of all the good stuff. Keeping a gratitude journal – creating a written record of what you value in your life – can be a helpful personal resource to read through when you’re feeling down.


Connect – Create an alternative “family” made up of people whose company you enjoy and make plans to get together. Friendsgiving feasts – typically potlucks attended by folks to whom you are not related – are a popular way to celebrate on a manageable scale. If you have loved ones who are far away, pick up the phone or write a letter/email to be in touch.

Do a Good Deed – Volunteering is a nice thing to do for others, and can provide perspective and good feels for you, too. Many community benefit organizations (aka nonprofit orgs) like Bell have a list of volunteer openings on their websites. You can find lots of options in one place by visiting the United Way of York County Volunteer Center (https://www.unitedway-york.org/volunteer-center) and VolunteerMatch.com.