The holiday season is here and our emotions are running high with the holiday preparation — the decorating, the shopping, and the planning for family gatherings. The anticipation of what may unfold this holiday season fills most of us with excitement and joy. But for some of us, especially those with ample idol time, we may be filled with sadness remembering what once was.

The holidays have a way of bringing up nostalgic feelings of the past – the role of being the chef and planner, sharing the holiday with a loved one and family member who passed, and/or the house we owned which held a comfortable space for our families to unite. As we reflect on these sacred memories, we may experience sadness or “holiday blues”. And as much as we wish for things to be different, if we hang out here too long, we miss out on what we have to be thankful for now, in this present moment. You are not alone in these feelings, as many report having the “holiday blues” around the holidays. But the good news is that you get to choose how you experience this year’s holidays. We’ve invited some advice from the professional, Mindy Crouch, a geriatric counselor with Pando Geriatrics, to help us with making the best of this holiday season.

When speaking about seniors and the holidays, Mindy suggests it’s best to stay busy to ward off holiday blues. She says, “If you can't be with your family the way that you used to be due to a decline in health or move to a new facility, then it is best to find a new tradition. Keep in mind that just because it is new does not mean that it is bad. If you can be with your family, then find something that you can bring or do something to remind you of how it used to be, even if it is as small as buying some dinner rolls. If you cannot be with your family, try to be with those who are also lonely during this holiday season.” By staying busy, you will keep your mind busy by focusing on what’s in front of you versus what’s in the past.

Finding a way to give back by volunteering during the holiday season can also help minimize the holiday blues. No matter what age you are or what physical ailments you may be battling, you still hold a special place in this world, and can find fulfillment out of giving to others. You could volunteer by serving a holiday meal at a local charity, you could help organize a gift drive, or you could even do something as simple as helping a neighbor with a household chore. Your options are limitless, and Mindy says, “Doing something for others gives you the same feelings and pleasures if someone was doing something for you. You are not alone when it comes to winter blues and offering support to others will help yourself.”

If you are unable to volunteer or get out this holiday season, a simple act of kindness can evoke the same feelings by doing something kind for another. This could include holding a door for someone, striking up a conversation with someone, giving a compliment, sending a thank you card or letter, or even picking up the phone to tell another you’re thinking of them and wishing them a happy holiday. Don’t hold all that magic inside you, give it out to the world.

If you are a family member reading this, Mindy suggests trying to include your loved one in any way possible this holiday season, this makes them feel included. Remember, your loved one was the “queen bee” at one time and when that role is taken away, a sense of purpose is taken away.  Help advocate for your loved one and help them find purpose in their life, most importantly around the holidays.

As much as the holidays can evoke past time memories, there’s so many things to be thankful for right now. You can find a plethora of things to be thankful for to keep your spirits up through the holidays so you can feel the love available to you all around, if you choose. Happy Holidays!

Share with us, below, something you are thankful for this holiday season!