The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time. But those high expectations can be an awful lot of pressure even when everything in our lives is otherwise going well. The holidays can act as a magnifying glass on feelings of grief, loneliness, or sadness. If someone you care about is struggling with the holidays, you can be a source of light for them. Here are some things you can do to help.
1. Ask How You Can Help
One of the best things you can do for someone who is struggling is to simply ask them what they need. Some people are overwhelmed by the preparations involved in the holidays and simply can’t do everything by themselves. You could lighten the load by putting up lights and decorations or picking up some of their shopping. If their need is financial and you don’t have anything to spare, you could put in some work to find charitable organizations that can help.
2. Lend a Listening Ear
The holidays are hard for a lot of people. Grief over lost loved ones or estranged family members can surface. You can’t solve these problems but being willing to listen can make them feel less alone. Sometimes just being able to get things off their chest can help people feel better.
3. Get Away from It All
Life can seem like it’s all about the holidays for most of November, December, and early January. That’s a long time if you’re not enjoying the season. Help your friend or loved one escape from the holidays for a while. Even if you can’t spare the time or money to go on a vacation, a day trip to a nearby town might be a good escape.
4. Help Them Laugh It Off
Laughter is good medicine. Whether you’re in a funk or dealing with serious problems, laughing at something funny can take your mind off weightier matters. Go to a comedy club or watch a funny movie with your loved one. It might offer some temporary relief. A couple hours of laughter can even help boost the immune system, which is a great idea during cold and flu season.
5. Get Involved in Helping Others
A lot of us have valid reasons to be sad during the holidays. But it can provide some needed perspective to help others whose situations are more challenging than our own. Help at a local soup kitchen, shelter, or raise money for a cause that has meaning in your life. Doing these activities together can help change both your perspectives on what the holidays are really about.
6. Gently Redirect Them
It’s easy to focus on the things that are going wrong in life, especially if a lot of things seem to be going wrong at once. But nearly everyone has something to be thankful for at any given time, too. It can be as simple as shifting your focus to the good things that give you reasons to feel happy and thankful. You can help redirect your loved one to think about the good things in their life.
7. Get Out in Nature
Science backs up the idea that getting out in nature can boost our spirits. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cloudy day or if it’s freezing cold outside, either. Fresh air and a change of environment can put you in touch with a slower, more peaceful pace of life. Go with your friend or loved one for a walk or hike in nature and you’ll both benefit from it. The exercise will help, too, since it’s a proven mood-lifter.
8. Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help
As much as you want to support your loved ones, there are some times when a situation is beyond what you can handle. You’ll be doing them a favor if you suggest speaking to a professional when they need more help with their struggles.
During the holiday time, it is common for therapists to experience an increase in inquiries about their services because the holidays can be tough. If you feel your friend or loved one could benefit from counseling, please have them contact me.