Alone for the Holidays? Don’t Let It Get You Down!
The stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s can be stressful for anyone, whether you are surrounded by people or if you are by yourself. Family vacation schedules, long-distance travel, finances and lingering tensions from recent separations can make get-togethers difficult. The result may be spending time alone during this time of the year.
Madison Avenue has never been kind to us Suddenly Solos during the holidays with images of Norman Rockwell-esque family dinners and similar romanticized scenarios. If you understand this, however, and know that you’re going to be bombarded with lots of painful advertising messages, you can prepare yourself emotionally to keep these from affecting you.
You can also remind yourself, every day, that there’s nothing wrong with being single during the holidays. You have just as much right to celebrate and have a good time (whether you choose to be alone or with others) as anyone else.
“This is the time of year when I see a lot of people who feel guilty or blame themselves if they’re alone,” says Jason Kornrich, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Nassau County Medical Center in East Meadow, NY. “They think there must be something wrong with them if they don’t have a partner, or that they’re being punished for things they’ve done in the past.”
Such dark thoughts can be avoided with a little planning. “People don’t want to prepare for depression,” Kornrich says. “But early November is the time to analyze how you felt last year and come up with some proactive measures.”
For Suddenly Solos who feel strongly that they are not comfortable being by themselves at these moments, we suggest letting friends and colleagues know you have no plans for holidays. If no invitations seem likely, take matters into your own hands. Plan to cook dinner yourself (or order a complete pre-prepared dinner now so you won’t be shut out!) and invite someone over yourself! That someone might be a friend you haven’t seen in a while, someone you know casually from one of your business or recreational pursuits or perhaps a single neighbor who might also be by theirself. It never hurts to ask.
Another strategy that is truly altruistic would be volunteering your time where it is most needed during the holidays. Soup kitchens, nursing homes and religious institutions frequently welcome a helping hand at this time of the year.
And don’t overlook exercise. “If you’re the type of person who likes to exercise, exercise more,” says Kornrich. “Don’t give up Friday night bowling and isolate yourself just because it’s the holidays.”
We are our own best friends – always. We’ll be around here at Suddenly Solo Central so feel free to post your comments no matter what the calendar says, okay?