How to Handle the Holidays Alone
For some, the holidays are a time to spend with friends and family, bonding with one another and catching up. For a lot of people, however, spending the holidays with loved ones may not be in the cards.
Whether you’ve recently moved and don’t know anyone yet, you have to work, your loved ones have passed on, or going home to see your family is just too toxic and triggering, some people just spend the holidays solo, be that by choice or circumstance.
Regardless of the reason, some alone time near the end of the year can serve as a great opportunity to get reacquainted with yourself, your community, and what’s really important. Here are a few tips for handling the holidays alone.
Pick up the phone
You don’t have to be surrounded by friends and family to connect with loved ones — after all, they’re just a call away. An easy way to feel immediately connected is to reach for the phone and dial up someone you would be spending the holidays with if you could. Texting may be quick and convenient, but hearing the sound of your best friend or favorite cousin’s laugh is hard to top, and may give you just a bit of love you’ve been missing.
See something new
Even if you’ve lived in the same town your entire life, chances are, there’s something nearby you’ve never seen before but always wanted to. Enter: the day trip. With some time to yourself and no set agenda, the holidays can be a perfect time to explore the area and make new memories on your own. Too cash-strapped to head out for the day? Look for historic landmarks or museums nearby, or pack a lunch and head out for a hike.
Alone at home but still looking to socialize? You can meet that need by volunteering with a local organization, many of which could use extra hands around the holidays, along with just about every other day of the year. Spending some time helping out a local animal rescue, educational group, meal delivery service, tree planting initiative, or even visiting with your elderly neighbors are all great ways to get into the spirit of giving. Plus, volunteering is good for your health! Habitat for Humanity cited a recent Harvard study that found people who volunteer spend less time hospitalized for illnesses than non-volunteers, adding that volunteering is also linked to lower stress levels.
Be smart with social media
Social media is a good way to stay connected and up to date with those around us. During the holidays, however, scrolling through countless pics of happy families eating hot meals together on Instagram can leave those of us who are alone and elbow-deep in a bag of Paleo Puffs (no judgement here) feeling a little sad. If social media is surfacing feelings of disappointment, delete that app until the holidays are over and fill that screen time with something that leaves you feeling fulfilled and allows you to relax and enjoy your holiday. (Because, remember, the holidays are still a time for you to rest and rejoice, alone or not.)
Remember that the holidays are temporary.
If you’re not feeling particularly good about spending the holidays alone, that’s okay. It’s a hard time to be alone for a lot of people, but it’s important to remember that the holidays won’t last forever, and neither will your feelings of loneliness. In the meantime, do your best to give yourself what you need in the moment because honoring your needs is an act of self-care and you deserve to be cared for, alone or not.
Wherever you spend your holidays, or whomever you spend them with, try to keep in mind that this time is intended for you — to connect with what’s important, give thanks for what you’re grateful for, and look forward toward what’s to come. After all, things may look completely different this time next year, so do your best to stay present and cherish this time that you get to spend taking care of you.