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Ask an Edge Expert: December 2017

Posted on: November 30, 2017

The holidays are upon us and can be really difficult for some. Many people struggle with their minds full of memories and their heart is heavy with loneliness. Angela Farris, LCSW blogs about how to cope with loneliness at the holidays, making new memories and self-care.

December 2017

Featured Expert: Angela Farris, LCSW

Often when we think about the holidays, happy thoughts come to mind. We think about family, homemade cookies, decorations, good food, warmth and love. This is a time of parties, laughter, music, treats, gifts, and good cheer. We bundle up in our warm sweaters, scarves and mittens. Building snowmen, snowball fights and hot cocoa top our lists of winter fun. We love and feel loved.

However, for many this is a time of loneliness and sadness. Many have suffered a loss this year, do not have family, struggle with making ends meet or are isolated from others. Divorce, death of a loved one, being far from family, being homeless, cold, hungry, alone…. many face these realities. This may be a time of firsts. First holidays as a widow or widower. First holidays in a new city where there aren’t many friends or family. First holidays since the last child moved out. For some folks this may be a lonely time to get through. For me this is a sad and humbling thought.

Often stress and feeling overwhelmed may be heightened at this time of year. Parties, gift giving, house guests all add to our already overbooked and hectic lives. We often find ourselves unable to juggle the demands of the holidays while attempting to take care of everything and everyone. Everyone except for ourselves.

So, the question is…. what can we do as individuals, and a community, to bridge the gap between those who see this as a joyous time of year and those who are just trying to get through it? How can we take care of ourselves while giving to others? Where do we begin? I say let’s make a commitment to be altruistic this time of year and all year through. Let’s be mindful of others and their needs. We all need to feel valued and appreciated. None of us want to feel invisible or forgotten. I offer some ideas for helping others and practicing self-care to have the best holiday season, 2018 and beyond! 

VOLUNTEER

There are many volunteering opportunities in our community. Find an organization you support and volunteer your time. For example:

-Foster a pet or care for a pet at a shelter

-Organize a gathering and go caroling at residential homes for the elderly

-Give your time at a homeless shelter

-Give your time at a shelter for domestic violence survivors

-Deliver meals to home bound individuals

-Sponsor a needy family

-Visit a Veteran

MAKE NEW MEMORIES                                              

-Start a new tradition

-Honor lost loved ones

-Dance

-Be silly

-Play games with loved ones

-Slow down and enjoy the moments

-Keep it simple. Our loved ones need our time, our attention and our love. That’s the good stuff!

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

-Adjust expectations

-Be kind to yourself

-Do what you love

-Adhere to a budget

-Connect with others

-Share your thoughts and feelings

-Ask for what you need

-Rest when you can

**LAUGH!!! LAUGH!!! LAUGH!!!

In my opinion, the most important thing to remember at this time of year and all year long is to be kind to one another. Our individual circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. When we look at one another let us not look at circumstance but instead let us see human beings we are connected to and who need our love and attention. Whether this be our family, friends, acquaintances or strangers let us remember we all need to feel connected. There may be sadness or loneliness hidden by the smiles. Please take the time to say hello, offer a kind word or have a visit this holiday season. Kindness is free but has such an enormous return! We never know when one small act of kindness will change the entire trajectory of someone’s journey. It’s unlikely you will ever regret being kind. If you are one who is alone and struggling through this time please reach out and seek help! Ask for what you need. There are so many of us who are happy to help!

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays and New Year!