Christmas, Hannakkuh, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Yule, Winter Solstice, Festivus or howling at the moon. It’s that time of year again. The holiday season and the holiday blues!
Have you ever felt blue around the holiday season?
David and I have. Our first holiday season, traveling fulltime, we missed home and our friends and family. Seeing them happily celebrating and getting together in photos on social media just made the sad and lonely feelings worse.
It’s not that we didn’t want them to be happy! It’s that we felt left out and alone in a world of strangers. That’s one thing about traveling, the people at home always move on without you. So it’s easy to feel alone or homesick at times, especially when you’ve just started traveling.
Seeing all the holiday decorations going up around us and people enjoying their friends and family made us miss those same things from home. Like enjoying those once a year homemade treats, wandering through the woods searching for the perfect Christmas tree, decorating, going out to find the best lights in the neighborhood and spending quality time with friends and family.
And while that first-holiday traveling wasn’t our first away from home at the holidays, it was the first one in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers. But instead of letting it get us down, we got to work figuring out how to get rid of our holiday blues.
Find Your People
Don’t spend the holiday alone. It’s easy to find people who are celebrating the holidays on sites like Meetup, Facebook groups and other group posting sites. And that exactly what we did! I got onto to Meetup and found a local group who is rounding up expat “strays” for a holiday get together. Not only did we not spend the holidays alone, but we made several friendships (BONUS). So no matter where you are, or what holiday you prefer, there’s probably someone you can celebrate it with.
Join Local Festivities
Get out. Try something new. Sticking to the familiar is always easy, but a fun way to celebrate the holidays is to learn new traditions. Expand your horizons by joining the locals in their festivities. You may just find a celebration you like better than your own. Or add a new one to your list of festivals. Trust me, we have!
Bill Quinn, a member of the House Sitting World Facebook group, calls home the old fashion way and says nothing conquers the holiday blues like hearing the voices of loved ones through the phone.
Hearing the voices of loved ones or seeing them live on a computer screen is the next best thing to being there in person. We called home and talked to my sister and David’s dad. Hearing their voices helped our spirits. So pick up the phone and call home. Or have someone set up a smartphone or laptop at your seat at the table and join in the celebration through Skype or Facetime.
Christine Harmel, a member of the Digital Nomads Around the World Facebook group, takes the day off and does something special for herself. For a recent Thanksgiving by herself in Barcelona, she ate churros and chocolate, while exploring a special place in the city.
Take care of yourself. Schedule the holiday as a day of pampering. Indulge in a good bottle of wine or beer, go get a massage or that manicure you’ve put off. Eat your favorite foods or go out to somewhere nice that you might normally not go. Take the time to spend the day spoiling yourself.
David and I do a mixture of exploring the location and making a holiday feast for ourselves to spoil ourselves with. It helps to have those familiar flavors as we sit and talk over a glass of wine.
There’s nothing like a little r-n-r to help you feel better. Take a day off. Mediate. Do a little yoga. Take a walk by the ocean or hike a high mountain. Whatever you like to do, do it. The holidays cause enough stress. Relaxing is one of the best ways to enjoy them.
Do a Little Decorating
I think one of the hardest things about traveling is not having the holiday decorations. Decorating is one of my favorite things to do during the season. So now, we go out and buy a bright red poinsettia and a strand of lights. It really helps.
Try sprucing up your hotel, housesit, Airbnb, couch, tent or cave with a little holiday decorating. Something small as a string of lights, an ornament or a plant can make a big difference. Do something that makes your place feel festive, even if that just means cleaning the place up.
Eat Something Yummy
David’s holiday blues come from missing the special treats I make every year. To cheer him up, I always find the ingredients for at least one of our favorites and whip it up along with a holiday meal.
Seek out your favorite holiday treats. I am betting that no matter where you are in the world that you can find a same or similar favorite treat. Or if you have a kitchen, make it yourself. If you can’t find your favorites, try something new and get a new favorite!
Being away from home for the holidays can be hard but it doesn’t have to be a mood killer. Hiding out in your room won’t help you avoid the holiday blues. Instead, get out, be with people even if they are strangers and enjoy yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
What tips do you have for dealing with the holiday blues?