If you’re Alone for the Holidays, Read This

The holiday season has arrived. For some, the holidays are as joyful as old Saint Nick and as warm as hot chocolate, while for others, it can be a monstrous time where loneliness and isolation set in. This was the case for Christen Bensten, founder of Blue Egg Brown NestRefinished Vintage Furniture & Interiorsand contributor to The Mighty, a digital health community created to empower and connect people facing health challenges and disabilities. She explains the holiday season in a way many of us may be able to connect with: “I can’t.” 

If you feel this way, I encourage you to check out her article for better insight: https://themighty.com/2017/12/no-family-holidays-christmas-mental-health/

Laurie Stone wrote an article for PsychCentral.com with a number of things you can do to make the holidays better when you’re alone.

  1.   De-mythologize and adjust expectations. There are so many categories of expectations about the season being just right that it brings up all sorts of issues relating to family, stress, and anxiety, eating disorders, sobriety, self-esteem, competency, etc. “There’s this idea that it’s supposed to be perfect, and if it’s not, the person asks, ‘What’s wrong with me?'” said Elaine Rodino, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Santa Monica, California. She added that “statistically, the number of ‘traditional households’ in this country is not in the majority.”
  2. Pick up the phone. Call friends and ask about their plans. Text and find out which friends are not going out of town or who won’t be with others on a holiday. Offer a plan to be included in whatever they’re doing, and plan on offering to bring a dish or seeing how you can contribute to the gathering. 
  3. Be proactive. Laurie suggests creating an “alternative family” made up of people whose company you enjoy. Then, have a potluck dinner with those people. I love the idea of everyone contributing food to a gathering and just chowing down. Food is so good for the soul, and it nourishes us and keeps us alive so it feels good to be able to feed someone and take care of that need. Do what feels good and makes you and others happy, together.
  4. Plan an outing. Go on a hike, or go to the movies, a park or a museum. Go with your group or by yourself. Just go! Get out and be around other people or places that make you happy.
  5. Pamper yourself. Of course, treating yourself to a day of beauty at a spa will make you feel good. Get a massage or find some other special way to luxuriate. Do whatever you enjoy doing while relaxing and replenishing your body and mind.​
  6. Reach out. A recurring theme here is reaching out to people. It is important to be around others when we’re feeling down, or like we want to simply not exist. Surround yourself with loved ones anytime you feel this way, and especially during the holiday season. Everyone understands the expectations this time of year can put on us, and a major theme of the holiday season is generosity and love. Most people are willing and excited to share this with you.​
  7. Remember your bonds and blessings. Stone suggests pulling out photo albums and reading old letters. Even if it makes you feel bittersweet, you can focus on the good memories and feelings you had when the photo was taken or when you received something special. ​
  8. Help others. Volunteering at a mission or shelter for the homeless will help you feel connected. Rodino says volunteering at a soup kitchen gives you a healthy perspective – it really helps you to realize how well you are.​
  9. Travel. Stone says if you have the finances get away for a few days. Go skiing or take a tropical holiday. Singles groups often have tour groups during the holidays, which could be a fun option where you could meet new friends. Rodino says this gets you out of the traditional holiday mindset. I love that idea, and it makes sense – it would put you in vacation mode rather than holiday mode and your focus would be shifted from what makes you sad to something exciting.​
  10. Get through the day. If you’re unable to do any of these things, just do whatever you can to get through it. Read. Sleep. Watch something new. And remember, it will end.

Self-care is something we hear about more and more, and I am here for it. I love this movement to give yourself the attention you need because you and only you know what you need and desire. Take charge of your mental health, physical health, emotional health, and spiritual health however you need to. Just do it. 

 

Happy effing holiday.