Here Are 10 Constructive Distractions For What Ails You …

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Okay. Let’s get it out of the way. My last name is “Eisenberg.” I’m a Jew. I know nothing of Christmas … save for loving the music: “Little Drummer Boy,” Sinead O’Connor’s “Silent Night,” and the soundtrack of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” score highest with me. And then, of course, there are the films: “A Miracle on 34th Street,” Alastair Sim’s “Scrooge,” Bill Murray’s “Scrooged” … even “A Very Brady Christmas.”

Fine. I cheated with that last.

Far be it from me to forget television’s “Frosty the Snowman,” “Rudolph — ” (oh, sorry, that one’s no longer PC), “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” … and anything with snow.

Just … snow.

I love snow. I feel most alive in snow. A snowy New York winter punctuated by the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, drinking a vegan (sorry) hot chocolate with my wife … paradise.

Yes, I’m married these days. I married at 37 for the first (and final) time. I also no longer live in New York, but in Los Angeles.

I remember my single days all too well, however. The days before one of my brothers moved out to the left coast to be closer to his older sibling. The days when I hardly dated, because I convinced myself I would never meet the person with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

She didn’t exist, you see.

Those days were not easy. I may celebrate Chanukah, but I absolutely love the Christmas season.

Always have.

Here, in descending order, are 9 of my favorite distractions that helped pass the time, plus one option that I wish existed when I was single. I may have a sarcastic sense of humor, but what follows is sincere. As many of us know, the holidays can be quite the rough haul when alone …

10. Read a book, or watch a film.

Effortless. I’ve been an avid reader and book collector since I was a teen. Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” was my first favorite novel; these days Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Frank Herbert’s “Dune” are tied for that distinction. Regardless, leaving the present world and heading into another, if even for a night, helped tremendously. For movies, any given “Star Wars” or “Rocky” film always did the trick.

9. Create a piece of art.

Long have I tended to increase my literary output during the holidays. I’d begin my Great American Novel, and return to it the following year. For more consistent endeavors, I’d write screenplays that I did tend to finish.

The latter efforts proved constructive; several of them were optioned or sold.

8. Visit and post on social media.

Hence, the “one option I wish existed when I was single.” Facebook, Twitter and the like are as heavily-trafficked during the winter holiday season as they are year-round. Many who post state they are doing so to pass the time, or because they are simply “reaching out.” Knocking social media as a personal outreach is a mistake. It certainly has its value when one feels particularly lonely.

7. Create a list of New Year’s resolutions.

Yes, many if not most of us (I have no scientific data either way) will break those resolutions before they begin. Does it matter? No, as in the moment you may unintentionally create a dose of inspiration for yourself that may carry you throughout the next few months or years. This is what I would call a “no-risk opportunity.” If it’s a time-waster, then it’s a time-waster. If your list becomes something more, however, this effort may prove among the most constructive of all holiday activities.

6. Work out.

Stretch, lift weights, go jogging. Release those endorphins, and nudge those negative thoughts out of your system. A little physical exertion can go a long way.

5. Write down the qualities of the person you would like to meet. Or, if you prefer to be alone, write down why.

Either option is a “me-time” moment to consider what it is you want for your future. You may be surprised at your responses.

4. Write down short-term and long-term goals, both personal and professional. Then, write down a list of actions to attain those goals.

Once again, as with #5 above, personal moments in this regard can prove highly-motivating, and invaluable over time.

3. Take your first actions from the above list (#3).

Nothing happens in a vacuum. Take those first actions the very night you jot them. If you were honest with those goals, and you want them badly enough, other actions on that list may follow. Here’s to meeting your dreams in the new year, and beyond.

2. Reach out, if you can, to someone long-distance. A friend, a relative …

Remember the phone? As in, for calling as opposed to texting? If you don’t, give it a shot. Reach out and touch some — you get the picture. (And, of course, if you must text, go for it. Whatever it takes if you desire even a modicum of human interaction.)

1. Go to sleep early.

It is what it is. Go to sleep early. I used to do exactly that every Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at about 8AM. I had no one to celebrate with, and I elected to spare my sanity by avoiding the televised hugs and kisses from the sanctity of my studio apartment (at the time). I hit the sack, in preparation for a promising new start.

The reality is I intented to run with a more humorous, even vaguely sarcastic list when I wrote my title. But then I was reminded how I felt when I was alone.

No, it was not the worst thing in the world. Yes, it was bothersome. No, I did not enjoy being alone when “everyone else” seemed to be out there and having a good time. Yes, I was — and am — very aware that many people find the Christmas season unbearable.

We are alone, or we feel alone, for different reasons. The death of a loved one. Geographic undesirability or difficulty. Being single.

A bad marriage.

Whatever the reason, taking stock of an upcoming new year and with it new possibilities and opportunities can be a plus.

Do what you must to pass the time, but try to constuctively create your tomorrows while doing so.

Though you may be among those who are alone during this season, I wish you the very best and happiest of days still to come.

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.

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