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11 ways to avoid Christmas when you're feeling down

11 ways to avoid Christmas when you're feeling down

 

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Unless you are suffering at Christmastime, in which case you might want to jam stockings up your ears to avoid hearing one more overly-joyful overly-played holiday jingle!

The reality is that Christmas can be hard for some people. Really hard.

Anna and John Wilkins have not celebrated Christmas in years. After their daughter was suddenly killed in a car crash one year, the season of merriment has not yet appealed to the couple. 

"All those meaningful family traditions we had have just become painful reminders of Susie, and of everything that we have lost and missed since we lost her," explains Anna, who along with her husband, no longer puts up decorations, and actively avoids the holiday.

 Mourning the loss of a family member or friend can make the forced-cheerfulness and consumerism of the holiday season feel especially empty and meaningless.

There are other reasons for feeling sad at Christmas too.  Any struggle is amplified at Christmas, and add to that shorter days and a higher rate of Seasonal Affected Disorder, and things only get worse.

Whether it's a breakup, you're living alone in a new city, or if you are facing a struggle with a disease like cancer, advertisements that are constantly showing us happy scenes of perfect families can sometimes only show us what we are missing and enhance the pain from the season.

Even people without extraordinary struggles can feel worse at Christmas - sometimes money is tight, and with the super-high expectations of gifts, food, alcohol, and attending events demanding all these things, the cash-strapped can feel especially poor in a season of plenty.

Sometimes rebelling against a "traditional" Christmas is just the thing to do. 

 

 

If you must stay home

 

 

Listen to talk radio or a podcast

Radio has been described as one of the most personal forms of media. 

Even in today's modern Internet era, this is still true.

On a radio talk show or a good podcast. the host speaks directly to you. 

Radio programmers know that their listeners are usually listening alone, and the result is an intimate experience where you might feel comfortable and familiar with some of your favourite hosts, as if they are dear friends. 

A good radio show or podcast can be good company and good entertainment at the same time - a nice distraction from Christmas!

With podcasts, you can listen to entire marathons of your favourite programs, so if you are up all night, at least you are in good company!

Some great podcasts to try:

The NoSleep Podcast If you like horror fiction and radio drama, you will love this podcast! Short horror stories produced and narrated in a dramatic style - so much fun!

Myths and Legends Like most podcasts, you can listen to this one in any order. Learn the original versions of folk and fairy tales like Cinderella and King Arthur from narrator Jason who relays the stories with a dry and slightly sarcastic wit that is most entertaining while also being handy for conversation starters.

 

Take a walk or a hike

Look at the Christmas lights. Create background stories for the scenes you come across - the families rushing off laden with gifts and food, the happy reunions.

Hint - A casual glance towards a home's happy-window-Christmas-scene, with its lit-up tree and jammed full of revelers as you walk by is okay.  Try to avoid standing in front of any houses and staring straight into the window though, no matter how interesting the back story appears to be!

However, if peeking into many worlds of family togetherness is distressing and not amusing, skip the neighbourhood walk and go to a park or nature area instead.

Adopt a pet, a furry friend who is also lonely this Christmas.

Give it the best day ever. Take it on your winter walk. Feed him treats. If you can't commit to adopting a pet, there are many shelters who are desperately seeking "foster" parents - so foster a dog or cat for awhile.  They make great company!

Do a puzzle

If your mind is distressed, sometimes it can help to focus on an engaging task. 

Celebrate the way people of other faiths do..

Enjoy a nice meal at a Chinese restaurant.  Catch a movie a the theatres. (No one will see you alone in the dark theatre!)

Pull an Ebeneezer Scrooge (post-ghostly visits)

Spread joy to any less-fortunate souls you see that day. Load up some coffee gift cards, pack paper bags with treats, and offer them to anyone you see, who looks like they are having a worse Christmas than you.

Read to seniors

Many seniors living in these places have a lonely Christmas - sometimes they are not able to leave the care of their institution, and so they are without their families. Many of these seniors have lost many friends, maybe their spouse, and family members.

But you can still bring a little kindness into a senior's holiday. a nice old fashioned Christmas story.

Yes, it's festive, but giving kindness to someone lonely might just give you that needed feeling of classic joy this Christmas!

Make arrangements with a hospice, personal care home, or retirement village. Choose a classic novel or an old-fashioned book with a historic storyline that might bring a senior back to a simpler time that they might remember fondly. 

Many seniors, besides having a lonelier holiday than many, also have long given up hope for reading books. Vision loss and decreased mobility make it hard to turn pages and read. 

But stories are special, calming, and entertaining!  You can read to a senior one-on-one, or make arrangements for a microphone, and arrange with the care home staff to give a reading to a crowd on Christmas.

One great book choice for seniors? Try Christmas with Anne and other Stories, a wonderful Canadian collection of festive short stories set in the early 1900s. 

Use FriendMatch to connect with a new friend

Come onto FriendMatch and find someone else in the world who feels the same way you do.

 

If you can escape your town

 

Sometimes the easiest way to avoid your troubles is to just run away from them! 

Okay, that might not be the most responsible statement, but sometimes a temporary but instant solution is simply needed.  And December 24 is one of the cheapest days for air travel!

Here are some ideas for how to escape whatever is bothering you this Christmas:

 

Go Skiiing

Picture it; the pristine Canadian Rockies, fresh, sparkly powdery snow, the lifts are running, and they are drastically less busy than they will be in a few weeks. 

Christmas is the perfect season for skiing, and everyone has their favourite ski destination. 

Sure, you'll see a lot of snow and Christmas trees, but that doesn't mean you can't spend the whole day on the glorious mountain, and enjoy the frostiest beers and whatever meal you like in front of a warm fire apres-ski.

 

Go to the Beach

 

One year, Peter's wife left him right before the holoidays.

He was devastated, "I couldn't stand all the "merry this" and "good cheer" that when I felt so hearbroken, I had to get away.  And more than that, I didn't want to face my entire extended family at our usual gatherings and explain what had happened. I still didn't understand it myself!"

On a whim, Peter booked himself a week at a resort in Mexico.

Now married again, Peter and his wife spend every second Christmas away from home.

"Travelling at Christmas has become a new tradition to look forward to. We always go somewhere new and exciting, and we take advantage of great airfare and resort prices before the rush!"

It's even easier to forget about Christmas when you are sitting under a hot sun, drinking a margarita and reading a new book, (Self-care!) or snorkeling...

..or whatever you love to do when all your responsibilities are waiting patiently for you at home.

It can also be much cheaper to travel to a hot destination like Mexico for Christmas time - after the holidays, the rates for sun holidays go straight up.

 

 

Head to a city with Great Nightlife

If you want to be alone, but you don't want to feel alone, a good solution is to spend Christmas in a buzzing party city.  

Head to Miami for tons of culture, and a perhaps slightly toned-down version of a vibrant nightlife - in some places in the world, the streets are filled with music, art, and people - all kinds of interesting characters - to keep you company.  Grab a seat on Ocean avenue, order an iced coffee or a cuba libre and soak up the energy as you people-watch.

Other options of this sort include the French Quarter in New Orleans, Reykjavik in Iceland, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tips and Ideas for an Amazing Holiday Vacation with Friends

Tips and Ideas for an Amazing Holiday Vacation with Friends

Group trip? Consider renting an amazing house

There are some beautiful dream homes on Airbnb, and through other services such as Luxuryretreats.com, and dreamexoticrentals.com, you can rent an amazing mansion in a beautiful travel destination.

Once you split the cost among a group of friends, it can be very comparable to staying in a hotel or all-inclusive resort - sometimes it's even a much better value.

In some rentals, like this house rental that sleeps 24 and is priced between $1,500 - $5,940 per night, there is even a private chef included!

 

See the rest of this listing here: http://www.luxuryretreats.com/vacation-rentals/mexico/riviera-maya/soliman-bay/hacienda-caracol-111850 

 

Remember to take some good group photos

You don't have to do this for every meal, activity, or even day, but try to put aside a bit of time to take a couple of group photos, with everyone in the shot!  You will treasure these photos for years after your vacation. 

Or, just post them on Instagram, whatever makes you happy.

 

 

 

Don't do Everything Together on vacation

Whether you are a group of friends or a group of couple friends, it's important to put aside time for people to do their own activities and to get some time for themselves. 

This gives everyone a chance to rest for the next adventure!  Some friends might prefer to take a nap in the day, while another friend might prefer time to do a workout.

Couples who are vacationing with friends might appreciate a romantic dinner or excursion on their own once or twice.  If you mix up group and solo activities, everyone can spend their vacation doing what they love.

 Plus, if you are all together every second, you might run out of new things to talk about!  

As a recent article in Forbes online put it, "Not every activity needs to be a group activity." 

 

If you don't want to do an activity on vacation - skip it!

This is a bit like the above point, but it's important for group harmony.

If you would rather sit by the pool than go to an art gallery, let your friends know you'll catch up at dinner. You'll be better company if you are happy and relaxed than dragging your feet!

 

 

 

 

Have a planning meeting before the trip

Planning a trip is part of the fun! Meet before the trip to talk broadly about what kind of vacation everyone is hoping for. This will really help to make sure that everyone can get the kind of vacation that they want.

Maybe one friend wants to spend a good chunk of time sitting on the beach, while another wants to explore and sight-see. Talking about it ahead means no surprises while travelling!

You can also make the larger decisions about the trip while together in person to discuss it, ideally.

 

Talk about money before the trip

Because who wants to talk about money while on vacation? For ultimate harmony, Sonia Prades in an interview for Hindustan Times suggests that you work out a fair split of the major expenses; accommodation, transportation, and groceries.  

Other expenses, such as entertainment, drinks, and restaurants, should be individual expenses, not group expenses.

Keeping friends is easy when you don't split every cheque!

 

One more thing about Money and other details ..

Don't worry, be happy!  Tell yourself that anytime you feel a bit annoyed that one friend seems to tip less, or eat more, or whatever annoying quirks..  Just remind yourself that you're on vacation, so you will not let little things bug you!

If you don't like a behaviour of one of your travel companions, just be the bigger person and lead by positive example!

Be the friend you want to have - and that includes extra patience sometimes!

 

 

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5 ways to Meet New People when you move

5 ways to Meet New People when you move

 

You've got your new house, your new driver's licence, your new job. But your real estate agent probably didn't help you to make new friends from your new neighborhood!  If you are wondering how to meet new people after you move- or maybe you didn't move, but you'd still like to expand your social network- here are a couple of ideas!



Volunteer for something you care about
This is a great way to meet new people.  As a bonus, the people you meet here probably care about the same things you do, making a great spark for a friendship. There are all kinds of volunteering opportunities out there, at animal shelters, working with seniors, neighborhood beautification committees, coaching sports, planning fundraising events, there are almost as many opportunities as interests so it's easy to find something that you might enjoy!

 
Get a Part-Time Job
Maybe you don't need a job. Well, you can always lose the job and keep the friends you make there! Sometimes serving tables or pumping gas can be a handy way to make new friends, as you bond with coworkers and meet people in the neighborhood without worrying about office politics or taking work home with you.  (BTW, this is the only idea of the five that actually pays you money.)

Join a Community Class
If you are a new parent you could try a "Mommy and me" class to meet other new parents- there is a strong chance that other people will be there solo as well, and you'll already have something in common.  Or take a zumba class and have a laugh while you bond over the shared experience.  Try a painting class and meet other aspiring artists.  A chance to learn something and meet people at the same time!

Start walking or jogging around your new neighborhood
By walking around, not only will you familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood, but you can also observe who else is in the community.  Go frequently and you might start passing by your neighbors, noting which ones are similar to you in age, or in interests.  If  you pass some neighbors frequently, it is only a matter of time before you become familiar to each other, and then the next step is getting to know each other!

Join a Sports Team
It doesn't have to be serious or competitive. Casual or "beer" leagues exist for all age groups and all levels of experience.  Today's "soccer mom" might be defined as a woman who plays soccer, as in some places participation in women over 35 is rising rapidly.  Baseball beer leagues are always looking for more players, both men and women.  It's fun, and it is a chance to meet a whole team of potential new friends!


Have you found an effective way to meet new people? Please share in the comments below!

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