Family, festivities, fun—Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays. It is is traditionally a time when families reunite to celebrate the birth of Christ and give each other presents. However, many of us are college students living far from home. How can we celebrate Christmas away from our families?
1. Connect with Friends
Just because you’re not with your family doesn’t mean you have to spend Christmas alone. Find some friends and do something fun! Make hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie, have a snowball fight, or compete to see who can make the best snow fort. In a 2015 study, Psychology professor Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad found that loneliness is a precursor for early death. “The risk associated with social isolation and loneliness is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality, including those identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (physical activity, obesity, substance abuse, responsible sexual behavior, mental health, injury and violence, environmental quality, immunization, and access to health care),” she and her co-authors said. Loneliness can lead to death just as much as obesity and substance abuse can.
So don’t celebrate the holiday alone! Find some friends and make this the best Christmas ever!
2. Help a Teen Bake and Deliver Christmas Cookies
This is a fun way to get involved with the holiday, learn a new skill, and spread Christmas cheer. Christmas isn’t just about presents and Santa, it’s a celebration of Christ. You can easily honor him by serving others. In a 2017 study, School of Family Life professor Dr. Laura Padilla-Walker found that teens’ self esteem was boosted by helping strangers. “There is something unique about helping those that teens do not know that helps them to feel better about themselves, but helping family and friends does not facilitate this same outcome,” said the researcher. Not all of us are teenagers, but serving others can still give us those positive vibes.
3. Play a Good Video Game
There are good video games out there, ones that encourage prosocial behavior (like these, suggested by our 2014 Hinckley lecturer Dr. Brad Bushman), and good ways to play them, as shown by research done by Dr. Sarah Coyne and others.
4. Have a Christmas Dance Party!
Moving around—dancing—makes you happier! “Pushing yourself to go out and be with other people will automatically increase your mood because your body will be producing serotonin and endorphins, which naturally increase your happiness level,” said a Relate Institute article. If you’re feeling sad that you’re not at home, just dance! Grab some friends, hit the dance floor, and jam!
It’s not easy to spend Christmas away from your family, but these four tips can make this a Christmas to remember!