Joy. Merry. Jolly. Why is it that there is a whole slew of happy words commonly used to describe the holiday season, but none that capture how lonely it can be? For many, the holidays are a time of hustling and bustling in between gatherings with family and friends. But due to a variety of circumstances, it can be such an isolating time for others. If you find yourself alone this holiday season, there is no arguing that there may be times that you’ll feel alone. But there are a few ways to help soften those feelings.
1. Make plans
Don’t think of filling up your calendar as just an excuse to be busy and ignore your feelings this holiday season. Instead, see it as an opportunity to force yourself to put yourself out there. If you host a holiday party for friends or attend a local holiday celebration, you can become in control of making your own memories this holiday season. Look for opportunities to strengthen bonds with new friends or distant family members. At the very least, plan some festive solo activities so that you have something to look forward to on the books.
2. Think to the future
Is the reason you’re spending the holidays alone logistical? Maybe you have to work or flights home were too expensive. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have now, focus on what you will have in the future. Are you meeting the family in Hawaii this spring? Will you reconnect with friends once they are back in town in January? Keep in mind that good things are coming and that the holidays are not the only joyous time of year.
3. Find ways to connect
In-person contact with loved ones is lovely, but it isn’t the only way to connect with others during the holiday season. Can you make dates to video chat with your grandparents? What about using the holidays as an excuse to catch up with old friends you’ve lost touch with? Send out some holiday cards with personalized notes. Organize a potluck at the office before it shuts down until January 2. You may have to take the first step, but you’ll be surprised at how many people want to reciprocate.
4. Indulge, indulge, indulge
If you’re not exactly thrilled to spend the holidays alone (by the way, it’s totally OK if you’re looking forward to some solitude), then be gentle with yourself. There is no reason you should spend the holidays doing anything other than rewarding yourself for working hard all year. Do a little gift shopping for yourself, book a luxurious hot stone massage, or splurge on your favorite bottle of wine. Do whatever makes you feel best. Sign up for yoga classes, take that bubble bath, and pick up some croissants for breakfast in bed. You deserve it, so relax and enjoy.
5. Tackle end of year projects
If you’re feeling a bit flustered in December, spend your alone time getting organized for the new year. Make those doctors appointments you’ve been putting off. Clean out your closet and drop off your quality discards at a local charity shop. Organize that random junk drawer in your kitchen, and make sure your car is squeaky clean. Try to isolate whatever it is about your life that makes you feel overwhelmed and do your best to tackle it. Maybe you need to sit down and create a new budget, or iron all of your work clothes and make sure they’re ready to go come January. Whatever it is, you’ll feel so much more pulled together once it’s done.
6. Stay busy
Now is the time to get your haircut, tackle a DIY project you’ve been dreaming about, or refresh your resume. The holidays will pass, but they’ll pass a lot faster if you fill your agenda with appointments and chores.
7. Or do nothing at all
On the flip side, if you’re not the get-up-and-go type, then don’t. Stay in bed, watch a Harry Potter marathon, and order that Thai food you love — every single night. Head to the book store and stock up on cheesy novels or go pick up some baking supplies and make a batch of cookies to enjoy with your coffee each morning. It’s been a long year, and it’s time to rest and recharge.
8. Reset your mindset
There is a lot of pressure on the holiday season. But let’s be honest, we all know that even under the best circumstances the holidays come with a lot of stress, discomfort, and drama. If you’re spending the holidays alone, it may feel like everyone else is having the time of their lives, but try to remember everyone is dealing with their own issues. At the end of the day, the holiday season shouldn’t be about lights or presents or sitting with every single one of your relatives in front of a fire. Try not to fall into the mindset that the holidays have to look a certain way. Our society has made up a lot of the expectations we have surrounding the holidays, so make up your own holiday rules this year.