We're going to this time of year … the most beautiful and stressful. We know that the holidays are stressful for anyone who has a family … but they try equally for those who don't have a family. Everyone knows that you cannot choose your family, but you have the power to control the impact that the family has on your life and to set limits on behaviors that you accept or will not accept.
Can you make a family out of it? Friends? Absolutely. With the love and support of your friends, you can create something that is healthy and meaningful.
How can you start your family of friends?
• Update your thinking. Open your mind. Family is not just one thing. Family is more than biology. Family is who has your back and who is there for you in good and bad times. If you've estranged yourself from your family, take small steps to connect more closely with other people in your life.
• Appreciate the people you have in your life and express what they mean to you. Do not hesitate to tell them how important they are to you. Your family of friends can be small. Two humans? Fantastic! We strive for quality, not quantity.
• Acknowledge that holidays can be difficult. A few days will be hard. Accept all invitations and just say yes. Make plans in advance and keep them. Celebrate holidays on your own terms, and if that means a film marathon with your friend, break out of the popcorn.
Other survival strategies
• Recognize that loneliness is a feeling and not a permanent state of being.
• Understand that you are not alone and that many people share your feelings.
• Decide to be the hero of your life, not the victim. You have to be ready to fight for the life you want and take risks to achieve it.
• Rethink your expectations. Avoid Hallmark films about perfect holidays.
• Be kind to yourself, but practice hard love. Do not allow yourself to wallow in self-pity. Are you alone on Thanksgiving? Go to a pantry and help people in need to celebrate the holidays. If you lose yourself in helping others, you will find something bigger than yourself.
• Use technology to connect with others in similar situations. Do you need someone to talk to? Try to make friendly calls and visit https://covia.org/services/well-connected/[1
Anais Nin wrote: “The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if it were not there tomorrow, as if you could not be there tomorrow. “Create new traditions and don't look back. You can do it.
Bio: Sherry Saturno is the executive director of Gramatan Village. She is licensed twice as a nursing home administrator and clinical social worker and has a master's degree from Columbia and Long Island Universities. She is a fellow at the National Academies of Practice and a national scholarship from the NYU Silver School of Social Work. She is the moderator and producer of the Reimagine Aging Podcast and wrote and produced a short documentary, Human Investment.
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash