For some people, the holiday season means being surrounded by family members, giving and receiving gifts, and sharing a special time with loved ones. For others, Christmas can be a difficult time. Some don't have families to go home to, and Christmas means that many friends and loved ones are leaving to go back to their respective homes. It can be a very lonely time, but just because you are alone this winter break, doesn't meant that is can't be filled with joy. If you find yourself alone this holiday season, here are some fun ideas to help get you up and keep your mental health spirits high.
Go to a Coffee Shop and Take Your Headphones Out
We live in a really interesting time, where we can be in public, surrounded by people and also totally isolated. Sometimes it is nice to take your headphones out and fully enjoy what is going on around you. Not only is it nice to hear the hustle and bustle of people making small talk and giving their best wishes, but it also makes you more receptive to being wish good things too. Just a week ago, as I was typing away in a coffee shop, a woman came up to me and said "It's so nice to see a young lady like yourself working so hard" and it made my whole day!
Go to a Coffee Shop and Keep Your Headphones In
Maybe being receptive to others engaging with you isn't your thing, and that is okay! Most coffee shops now have access to wifi, which means you can slip your headphones in and watch Netflix, or whatever you would be doing at home. You may be thinking "Umm, or I could just do it form home?!" But going to a coffee shop means that you have to take off your pyjamas, shower and brush your teeth. By getting up and going somewhere forces you into some small but mighty self-care activities.
Talk to a stranger on the bus
For those of us with social anxiety, this may be a bit of a difficult task, but I promise that it is worth it. On my commute to and from work, there is usually a little older lady or two eager to discuss the weather. Although my socially-anxious driven reaction is to mumble "mhmm" and smile politely, when you reach out and engage with people, it can really brighten your mood. One of my go-to things to ask someone is what their favourite part of their day was. This one is almost always sure to create positive conversations and some smiles. Not only will this help make your day a little brighter, it will also make a strangers day a little brighter.
Go on a Winter Wonderland Adventure
The winters here in Canada may be bitter and cold, but they are also absolutely beautiful. Pull on your winter boots and go off into the woods or take a walk through your city's streets. Maybe snap a few pics and share your beautiful city with Instagram. Most importantly, take a deep breath of the winter air in and appreciate the beauty that the winter season has to offer.
Bake Christmas Cookies
... and eat them all yourself. Because why not! You can also bake cookies for your neighbours or bring them around to those on the street. Baking can be great for your mental health, not only because making something can be so rewarding, but decorating can be used as an excellent creative outlet.
Donate Your Gently Used Clothes
This is a two part task, but is totally worth it if you are up for the challenge. The first part is going through your closet and separating everything in to 'Keep' and "Go' piles. We all have clothes that we don't wear anymore but are still in great condition, many people this season will be going without warm and cozy clothing and this is a great opportunity to give back and help out. The second part is finding a facility near you - many cities have bins that you can go drop of bags of clothes, and some charities even have clothing drives.
Go to Hot Yoga
Yoga is great for calming the soul and focusing on the present moment. Hot yoga can be especially relaxing and feels amazing in the winter time. When it is cold outside, nothing feels better than walking in to a cozy yoga studio with the heat blasting.
It is always good to help others of course, but the secret hidden reason you should volunteer this winter break is because it makes you feel really good. There are so many cold winter mornings that I really have to force myself to get out of bed, but volunteering is the easiest way to find meaning in your mornings again and is a great motivation.
Make a Vision Board
Remember in the Bling Ring Thing where Emma Watson's mom makes her do this as a part of homeschool? Well, as it turns out making vision boards are actually more fun than they are work. All you need is a big piece of Bristol-board and a few old magazines that you can cut out. Go through and cut out things that inspire you, things you admire, or things that represent what you would like to achieve. Glue them on the board and create a collage, you can also add in words and quotes that help represent what you envision for your future to look like. This is a fun, hands-on activity that creates hope and meaning.
Call Your Distant Loved One For an Extended Period of Time
Personally I hate talking on the phone. It makes me a little nervous when someone calls me and I would much rather talk to someone in person. However, sometimes phone calls or Facetimes are the closest thing we can get to face-to-face interactions with the ones that we love. Set a timer for an extended period of time (maybe 3 hours if you have a lot to catch up on!) and really get to know your distant relatives. If they tell you their day was good, ask them what the best part was. If they tell you they had lunch, ask them what they had and why. Keep the convo going- your distant relatives may be more interesting than you think and the friends you haven't seen in a while have a lot to fill you in on!
Visit Your Local SPCA
This could be another volunteer opportunity if you aren't afraid to get your hands a little dirty. Or you could simply go to the SPCA on a visit and pet a puppy or two. Being around animals (given that you are not allergic) is great for your mental health. Therapy animals are becoming more and more popular because of the benefits that come along with cuddling animals.
Written by Executive Assistant Addie Van Rijn