alone during the holidays
Alone for the holidays? How to overcome loneliness and enjoy this time of year!
Ahh, it’s here! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Neighbors share their favorite soup recipes, front porches are decorated with large orange pumpkins and beautiful flowers, and you can taste the turning of seasons in the air. Family surrounds many at the table, sharing laughs, jokes, and the usual catching up. Many will eat, drink, sing, play charades, and enjoy being together if you are blessed with a great circle of friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings, and parents; what a blessing to have such special relationships!
However, not all people have the same life circumstances, nor the same family dynamics or social circles. Not everyone has the same blessings. With the emphasis on families and being with others on special occasions, the holidays can be an especially lonely and difficult time, even for those who are usually okay being on their own.
Kevin McCallister from Home Alone learned this firsthand when his family flies across the country for Christmas, leaving him behind. He enjoys his freedom and pizza for a while but eventually becomes lonely and sad that he doesn’t share this special time of year with his family. He’s most certainly not the only one who goes back and forth with the idea that loneliness is okay. Some people struggle around the holidays either because they don’t have many friends or family, or they are reminded of a painful loss, such as a parent or child. Others may very well be involved in family gatherings, and social affairs yet feel emotionally disconnected, bringing on a whole different type of loneliness.
Read these top five ideas to overcome loneliness, put yourself out there, and get connected in different ways!
- Get connected. Do you have a small social circle? Great because that’s all you ever really need. Reach out, call a friend, and be vulnerable. Mention that you don’t have holiday plans and ask to be involved in any of their activities. If you never ask, you’ll never know. Who knows, maybe Christmas Day is for immediate family but on Christmas Eve everyone comes over to your friend’s house to drink wine and eat appetizers. You won’t know what you’re missing out on unless you ask. You’ll get extra praise if you show up with a tasty treat and bottle of wine, anything to show gratitude. So don’t be afraid to ask as most people love opening their homes and expanding the celebration. It works for everyone.
- Reevaluate your expectations. Sometimes you may very well be too hard on yourself. To be clear here, NO ONE has the perfect family, the perfect home, the perfect relationship, or the perfect traditions. The holiday season is what YOU make it to be, so take all the magical Christmas movies with a grain of salt. Realign your expectations to fit your current situation and find ways to make it work for you.
- Focus on a goal. The best way to avoid feeling lonely and letting it engulf your mindset is to stay busy! Is there something on your to-do list that has been put on the back burner one too many times? Well, get to it. Staying busy allows your brain to focus on the task at hand, which gives little space for being all sad and depressed. Paint the house walls, reorganize the pantry, or get an early head start on your new year’s resolution and beat everyone to the gym.
- Treat yourself. If you already know it’s the same dance and song year over year, then make a plan. Do something nice for yourself; maybe a manicure is overdue since the cold weather has dried out your hands. Perhaps schedule a hot stone massage. Do something for you, so schedule in some fun.
- Help others. This year has been quite a challenge for EVERYONE. But believe it or not, some people are still struggling greatly. Think of ways to help the community. Can you knit mittens for the homeless? Help at the food kitchen? Volunteering for the homeless will make you feel connected, as well as grateful for the blessings you truly have. Search the internet to find local volunteer opportunities in your area. Not only will you make a huge difference in people’s lives, but you may even meet someone also looking to avoid the sting of loneliness. Voila! You just made a connection!
Remember that the holidays don’t have to be a drag or sad period; they can be refocused on what you want them to be this year and the years moving forward. Stay busy, help others, and reach out. Be good to yourself by joining a fitness class, an online group program, a book club, or anything that builds connections. Most of all, remember that you are not alone.
Many people struggle during the holidays for various factors, so just understanding that the holidays can be lonely for many others besides you. This hopefully takes the sting away and creates a new perspective on the situation. Take the time to understand your feelings, and while it may feel uncomfortable to feel alone, accept that it’s okay and find what you can do to change those negative feelings and turn them into a more attractive situation.