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How to Cope When Spending the Holidays Alone
The holidays are typically a time for family and friends to come together but many will be spending the holidays alone. Some may not be able to afford to travel. Others may have strained family dynamics. Some may have moved to a new city and haven’t cultivated a network. And others just may not have the relationships and social circle they desire. The holidays can magnify feelings of loneliness, and it can be hard. But all is not lost.
I’ve spent many holidays on my own. Initially I was sad about it, depressed actually, wishing I had a house full of loved ones having a great time. There were times I would long for the days when I was a little girl, going to visit my grandmother, who always greeted me with a warm hug and plenty of food. We’d travel from house to house visiting family, talking, laughing, eating, unwrapping gifts…. Those were the days. But as an adult, the magic memories of childhood have faded and circumstances have changed. Most of the family I grew up with is gone, and I still haven’t cultivated a close social network since moving to St. Louis several years ago. So I’ll be on my own this holiday season, again. But it’s ok. I’ve learned several things from my solo holidays that have helped me not only survive the holidays but actually enjoy them on my own. So if you’re on your own this holiday season, and not feeling great about it, here’s a few things to keep in mind to help you through.
The day only has the value you give it
You can decide that spending the holiday alone is sad, or you can reframe your thoughts. You can take the holiday and (re)create it for yourself. You can declare it a personal “Me Day” and do what you want, watch you we want, eat what you want and talk to who you want. You can create your own experience. And you can absolutely decide that it’s just another day.
You can help someone else who may be alone too
You may consider volunteering your time during the holidays to help others who may need companionship and assistance. You can volunteer at a shelter, help serve a holiday meal to those less fortunate, or visit a senior community and spend time with our elders. Volunteering has significant emotional and psychological benefits that may help you shake the holiday funk. And working alongside people to help your community can also combat feelings of isolation.
If you’re depressed about being alone during the holidays, getting the motivation to DO anything about it might be hard, but try one step at a time. Try making just a few inquiries to find out how and where you can contribute. Resources like Volunteer Match may be able to help you find opportunities in your area. Or, you may just start at your local church or community organization.
And speaking of holiday depression…
It’s ok to ask for help
If you feel you need help with your feelings about being alone during the holidays (or for any reason), reach out and get support. If your company offers Employee Assistance Program (EAP) you may be able to utilize this service to connect with a short-term therapist or counselor who can help you during this time. There are also many helplines that take calls 24/7. A qualified professional can assist you in sorting through your feelings and maybe even help you enjoy your holiday.
Remember there’s no shame in being alone
We’re living in a time where there seems to be so much pressure to have a thriving social life, all captured and perfectly filtered on social media. But the reality is that many more people feel lonely or alone than we may realize. Feeling isolated and disconnected is hard, but being on your own is ok. It’s not a statement about who you are. It’s just a condition, one that can change. Do what you can to focus on yourself and fill your own spirit. Try to take it all one moment at a time.
I wish you a blessed holiday. And remember, even if you don’t feel it, you are loved.