I know I’m not the only one who tends to fall into a slump over the holidays. As an expat, it isn’t cheap to travel to your home country. Depending on where you live, you might have to take additional transportation like trains, planes or buses to get to an international airport. Some people choose to go home and others choose to travel. This will be the second year I’ve lived abroad and I’m no stranger to the holiday blues, especially when it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Have you ever felt annoyed or longing for home around this time? Is this your first time away from your home country and family? Have you ever felt frustrated that Christmas is a couple holiday and for some seasoning by the sire? If so, I label some easy steps to help you pass your time positively throughout this holiday season.
1. Plan a small trip (or big one)
When you travel, you’re putting time and energy into a new place. Indulging in something different stimulates the senses and keeps you focused. Learning about a new place and a different country makes that plane ticket worthwhile. Even if you plan a small mountain getaway or hot springs visit, it’s still something to look forward to.
2. Have a lot of holiday parties
If you have a lot of parties, you’ll be so partied out by the time Christmas comes, it won’t feel so lonely when you are away from home. By celebrating with your friends and people close to you, you’re opening up your heart to happy.
In previous years, almost every single weekend was a party. You can get together for Christmas karaoke, make Christmas cookies or just drink your local brew. It’s the small things that remind you, Christmas isn’t about the gifts but the people we love to spend time with.
3. Keep up with your clubs and hobbies
During the holidays, it’s easy to feel lethargic and want to hibernate. By focusing on clubs, exercise, and hobbies, you’re releasing endorphins. Since there’s not as much sunlight, we have to make do with the happy chemicals we can get.
Sometimes I’m so sleepy when I come home from work, I just want to nap. Instead, I make sure I go to Cross Fit and cook dinner. If I have time, I blog or work on my YouTube channel. What makes you happy?
4. Make time to Skype with your friends and family
During the holidays, everyone is so busy! It’s easy to get wrapped up in work and other activities and forget your loved ones back at home and vice versa. Call them. Make a plan and stick with it. Reminisce or talk about your plans for the future. The familiarity of seeing your friends and family back home can put a smile on your face.
5. Send a surprise gift home or holiday greetings cards
In a fast paced world, snail mail is so outdated. Why bother going to the post office when you can order and make everything online? Chances are the cards you spend time hand-making will be well received. I still love snail mail and random gifts!
If you really can’t spare the time to make a card, shutterfly.com has specials over the holidays. They will even mail and postage your cards for you! I use this service to make a photobook for my parents as well. The little things. The little things.
6. Have your family and friends send you greeting cards
Give and receive. Some people are dense (bless my dad, but he is so bad at taking hints) so I have to directly come out and say, “You know, I’d really love a Christmas card this year!” A pleasant gesture is always a welcome.
7. Make an event and cook together
What’s great about an expat community is that it’s so international. Not only is this an exchange for your host country friends but also within the foreigner community. Why not organize an event where you teach and cook each other’s cuisines? Eating is international. Everyone eats and quality bonding time often takes places over a good plate of food.
8. Make Christmas decorations and decorate together
Did anyone make construction paper chain links or turkeys? It’s the small things we did during our childhood that can help make the holidays bright again. Maybe you can visit the Daiso and buy a Christmas stocking and decorate it together? Or you can decorate a small tree and enjoy the first time you light it up?
I think this is the ultimate holiday activity. Nothing gives you joy like putting a smile on an orphan’s face or serving a warm plate of food to the homeless. Even organizing a beach or community park clean up will help make the world a little brighter. Christmas is about giving and we should definitely give to a community that has given so much to us.
10. Write a book
Towards the end of the year, I find myself with a lot of free time at school. Why not take the time (if you enjoy writing) to write about your experiences and life abroad? Not many people get this chance and when we look back, it’ll be a great memory.
Or if you don’t like to write you can secretly plot your world domination. It’s not like I *ahem* we haven’t thought about it before…
11. When Christmas comes, celebrate happily
I find this one to be the most important. Christmas is special and you’re spending your precious time with precious people. It’s a guarantee the same Christmas will not come again.
Last year, I spent the holidays with my best friend and her husband. We shared food together at his house, drank, and were merry. I even got to try Keri’s holiday trifle which was out of this world. It’s a priceless memory that still stays in my heart.
What sorts of things do you guys do to beat the holiday blues? Do you have anything to add to the list? Looking forward to hearing from you soon!