The holiday season is a time of tradition, and traditions have a funny way of becoming expectations — like getting lots of stocking stuffers and spending days on end with family and friends. But what if you are going to spend much or all of the holiday season alone? What’s a person to do?
No matter the reason that you’re alone for the holidays, you can make it a wonderful holiday season all the same. How? First, make your time alone count. Make it special. Then, when you’re through with personal time, pick some activities that will surround you with others.
Ahhh! Some Time to Myself!
A little time to yourself can be all too rare these days. When you have some, it is something to cherish. But to really enjoy it during the holidays, you’ll first need to forget those expectations. Forget about what’s “supposed” to happen. Remember that lots of people out there are doing what’s expected, and probably running themselves a little ragged. What they wouldn’t do for some time alone!
Once you’ve put aside the weight of expectations, consider how you might treat yourself to some special time. Here are some ideas:
- Get out, go somewhere. Find places that will stimulate and amuse you. Museums, festivals or streets decorated for the holidays might recharge you.
- Take on a home project. Fix up that guest room, do some indoor planting or, weather permitting, do some touch-ups outside your home.
- Rediscover an old creative talent. Have you been telling yourself you’d start painting again or get back to the guitar? Now’s your chance.
- Treat yourself to a personal spa. Spoil yourself with comfort. Read a mystery novel by the fireplace. Take a candlelight bubble bath. Curl up on the couch with hot chocolate, a warm blanket and a movie.
- Call or write to family and friends. Just because you’re not with them doesn’t mean you can’t make contact. But plan your calls, so you don’t go broke. And make sure the calls are a nice diversion for the day, not the centerpiece of it. You should enjoy the moments of contact, not dwell on the fact that you’re not with family and friends.
Sharing Time with Others
So you’ve had your time to yourself. Now, consider how much time alone is best for you. At what point will you start to get lonely? It might be two days or maybe a week. Whatever it is, be honest with yourself about your personal limit. Make plans to be around other people when that alone-time limit comes. There are many activities to do and places to go where you can share the holiday spirit with others. Here are some ideas:
- Volunteer. If it’s holiday traditions you want, forget shopping and parties. Return to the real holiday tradition by helping others. When you volunteer, you can expect two big rewards. First, you’ll be surrounded by people — by volunteers and staff who share your spirit of giving and by those you are helping. Never will someone be more grateful for a gift. Second, it’s good for the soul. Helping others in need is fulfilling.
- Do something with friends. This may seem obvious, but many people don’t think of it. Most of us have been conditioned to think of holidays as time for family only. We’re not used to thinking of this as a time to gather with friends. Change that. If you’re on your own, a few friends might be, too. Get in touch with them, and make some plans.
- If you’re single, look for a singles organization. Some singles clubs offer holiday trip packages or in-town get-togethers.
So, there you have it. If you’re going to be alone for this holiday season, make it a good one. Take advantage of what it can bring you: a chance for some quality personal time, and a chance to get out, meet some new people and help those in need. Enjoy!
Rea, J. (2006). Coping with Being Alone for the Holidays. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 10, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/coping-with-being-alone-for-the-holidays/000401
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.