Let’s set something straight: being alone for the holidays doesn’t necessarily mean you are unloved or that you’re failing at life. Connecting with people in person might be rough right now, and seeing loved ones, especially if they live far away, might not be on the table this year.
As the holidays get closer, it’s quite understandable if you’re anticipating feeling lonely. As a society, we’ve gotten used to those nostalgic images of holidays being full of family, food, travel, and good quality time.
If the picture changes or one important aspect is missing, something might feel off. Childhood memories of feeling together and having your loved ones close to you can even accentuate feelings of loneliness. Socially and culturally, the entire idea of being surrounded by your loved ones is reinforced.
When you are alone, or not necessarily alone, but you feel lonely, this difference in expectation can make you feel even lonelier. For most people, holidays have a tendency to dredge up a lot of sadness.
Individuals often have time away from work and fewer distractions. If you’re wondering what this has to do with anything, well, you’d be surprised to know that when there aren’t as many distractions around, we start ruminating over past relationships or our loved ones who have passed away.
Post-traumatic symptoms might emerge or worsen around the holidays and even exacerbate feelings of loneliness. Spending this time alone isn’t necessarily something to blame yourself for.
Being alone for the holidays is just a statement about your environment, not your capacity or worth. Let’s see how we can make these holidays more enjoyable, shall we?
Treat yourself in a nostalgic or memorable way.
As long as you’re not spending too much outside your budget or doing something completely inadvisable, it’s completely alright to treat yourself this holiday season.
This could either imply diving into a book you’ve been wanting to read, taking a weekend getaway to your favorite spot, or simply taking a day off to relax.
Taking care of yourself can really go a long way toward protecting your own emotional health. And remember, self-compassion, gratitude, and positive affirmations could really improve your self-esteem and decrease those difficult feelings of loneliness.
Remember who you still are.
It’s quite easy to fixate on who you can’t be with over the holidays and completely forget about the ones you actually can be with. It’s important to actively work on growing your relationships with the people you can truly rely on.
This also means calling, zooming, and getting together with them. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings, connect with them, strengthen your bond, and be open to getting vulnerable around them.
You are far from the only person feeling lonely this season. In fact, you might be surprised at how eager others are to connect if you just give them a chance!
Set whatever tone you need.
One of the best things about being an actual adult is that you can make the rules. There’s truly no particular way holidays should look for someone. In fact, a good side of spending the holidays by yourself is that you get to decide exactly what you want your holidays to look like.
So, you should feel free to enjoy your latkes, stuffed turkey, or even sushi instead of the old and boring Christmas ham as you blast songs your family members could never listen to.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t feel like you have to celebrate anything. Who says we should celebrate every single holiday season? If you’re sad or even disappointed to spend the holidays alone, just let yourself feel those feelings and process them in whatever way works for you. This could imply journaling, making art, or even listening to your go-to “sad songs” playlist.
Create new traditions with your close ones.
Get all the people you love in one place (this could either be in person or via video chat) and decide on new activities or traditions to start together.
This could either be an epic virtual game night, a dance party using your favorite playlists, or even a no-holds-barred, emotionally raw conversation. Just because you’re not on good terms with your blood relatives doesn’t mean you should stay away from your family.
Reset your expectations.
Whether it’s dinner at your aunt’s or the good old bakery pie back home, you must associate some traditions with the holidays. However, if this year has taught us anything, it’s that we need to embrace flexibility and try to embrace the unexpected.
So go ahead and try to find joy in trying something new!
Volunteer your time.
It’s super easy to sit at home and feel sorry for yourself. Why not get up and help others in need instead? Luckily, you can easily do this from the comfort of your bed.
Whether it’s remote or in person, helping others could combat loneliness. It’s yet another way to feel connected to other people, and it also makes for a wonderful opportunity to meet new people by doing something you truly care about.
Why not do something nice for the ones around you? It can be something as small as leaving them a little treat and a cute note. Choose a dish that always brings you joy during this time of the year and share it with your neighbors.
Get in touch with your spiritual side.
Take time to think about what the holidays mean to you, what you’re looking for in the upcoming year, and the beauty and complexity of being human, even when it’s so difficult to find anything.
Be strategic and consistent about combating loneliness.
There are many little ways in which you can create a connection with others. You could exercise or engage in a certain activity where you will interact with other people.
For instance, if you join a group or a class that meets every day at the same time consistently, you will start experiencing a sense of belonging and feeling connected to others.
Start a gratitude journal for the holidays.
There’s definitely something freeing about releasing your thoughts onto paper. In fact, some recommend creating short journal entries on a daily basis, with letters to yourself and complimentary messages.
Just keep journaling as fluid, fun, and creative as possible. Individuals could rejoice about any small thing that makes them happy, draw pictures linked to the content, and share their gratitude for others.
Have a TV marathon.
There’s really nothing wrong with escaping into something fun and entertaining. Indulging in a fictional world is a wonderful and efficient distraction to combat loneliness. You could rewatch your favorite TV show or even start a joyous holiday fan favorite.
Attack the day.
Every day you wake up and set a goal, even the smallest one, is a plus. Besides, creating a reliable pattern is a wonderful distraction from the abnormal. Routine and consistency are very important.
Filling your days gives you less time to ruminate on any negative thoughts and feelings you might have going on. In therapy, this is known as behavior activation.
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