Being in the hospital can happen any time of the year, but when it occurs during the holidays it can seem pretty unfair.
Separation from family and friends and missing out on traditional activities such as shopping for gifts, baking special treats and attending celebrations and religious events can make a patient feel sad.
“It’s not uncommon for people to have the blues around the holiday season and being in the hospital can really intensify those feelings,” says Rev. Karen Schnell, director of the Spiritual Care department at UCLA Health.
Schnell suggests that patients who are feeling the doldrums talk to their doctor, nurse, social worker or chaplain.
“They care and they will listen to how you are feeling,” says Schnell.
Here are some ideas to help celebrate the season while hospitalized:
- Bring the holidays to you. Place meaningful objects in your room such as an electric menorah, nativity scene or holiday decorations. Celebrate traditions such as gift-giving with family and friends who can visit you.
- Attend hospital services. Many hospitals hold holiday services for patients and family members. If you’re unable to attend, ask for a visit from your personal religious leader or a hospital chaplain who can support you in your traditions and practices.
- Send a card, letter, email or text to someone you miss. Let them know you are thinking of them and wishing them well. This can enhance your sense of connection with those you love. And, doing something for someone else can help you feel better emotionally and spiritually.
- Receive, instead of give. If you are usually a go-getter during the holiday season, give yourself permission to receive this year. Let go of expecting yourself to do everything you usually do during the holidays. After all, you’re in the hospital!
And if you’re still feeling blue?
“You’re not alone,” adds Schnell. “It’s perfectly okay to recognize that it is not a happy time for you.”