The months of January and February can be a bit gloomy. As the warmth of the holiday season has passed and outdoor temperatures are getting low, internationals abroad might start to feel a bit lost.
The glow of reconnecting with loved ones over the holiday season, the relaxation that comes with taking time off, the warmth of the love that you have shared, it all seems to have gone … And what is left are cold, dark days and nothing to look forward to.
Now that everyone has returned home after the holidays and your visitors have left, it is common to feel a mix of both happiness and sadness.
Happiness because it was so nice to catch up; sadness because having touched base with dear ones with whom you share history and sometimes many years of intimate connection, friendship or even living together, such as your parents, children or other relatives, makes you realise the physical and emotional distance that exists between each reunion.
The fact is, spending special moments with the people you share your roots with does affect you – it’s both sweet and sour!
Sure, you have chosen to live abroad, and you make it work, but still these feelings are commonplace.
Spending Christmas or New Year together with people you love and have a strong bond with always leaves a trail of sadness or even melancholy. And that’s okay, it’s how it is.
Experiencing these kinds of emotions comes with the lifestyle of being an international abroad. The best thing to do is to take some deep breaths and re-calibrate so that you can move forward into the new year and make something of it in the here and now.
Four tips to make the holiday blues go away
1. There are things you can do to soften these blues and one of them is to build a new “family” here. Over time, you’ll see that you gain the same sense of belonging and connection with them. Being part of a group of likeminded people with whom you can share experiences, and with whom you can build friendships, is an important aspect for your overall happiness.
2. Another really helpful thing that generates energy is to sign up for a class, workshop or course. The world is rich with many creative activities, so why not find a hobby and give yourself the gift of learning something new? Creativity is a powerful remedy against any kind of blues, and, at the same time, you’ve given yourself something new to discover. How good can it get?
3. Book a trip! This is a great time to plan visiting other parts of the country, do something new, maybe something cultural, and take in all the perks of living here. Make something of your time here, be happy to be alive and make it a quest to enjoy life as much as you can!
4. Bonus tip: Reconnect with the ones you love. Plan to meet them again, schedule a call or visit, so that you can look forward and continue building on the relationship. It’s wonderful to show your appreciation of the time you spend together and let them know how much you care. Sending a beautiful card, or a personal photo will be very well received. And on top of that, it feels good to give.
By Ria van Doorn
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Ria van Doorn is a life coach for internationals living abroad and founder of the Expat Centre Portugal.