An Honest Guide to Spending the Holidays Alone & Taking Care of Yourself
The holidays can be a polarizing time, depending on your circumstances.
For many, the holiday season is a time of joy spent surrounded by loved ones, festive coziness, and the anticipation of gift-giving. But the holidays don’t necessarily spark joy for others. Thousands spend the holidays alone, which can lead to an overwhelming feeling of isolation.
Watching the world around you prepare for celebration can be challenging, but we’re here to let you know that just because you’re alone for the holidays doesn’t mean they need to be a negative experience.
Spending the holidays alone can be a time to look inside yourself, discover the “why” behind what has made past holidays great, and gain a better understanding of what you need to turn a time of potential loneliness into one of celebration.
If you’re spending the holidays alone this year, join us as we look into the best ways to spend the season solo, how to give yourself permission to enjoy your holiday alone, and how you can reprogram your mindset to one of gratitude even if you’re by yourself.
Why Is It Difficult to Spend the Holidays Alone?
Learning how to be happy by yourself is something that doesn’t always come naturally to people.
Humans are attracted to spending time with other people — whether it’s a typical Tuesday or the middle of the busiest holiday season of the year. We like to have someone we can share thoughts and feelings with, and when we’re all alone, it’s easy to feel a sense of isolation.
During those periods of aloneness, it’s easy to overanalyze your situation and ask questions that negatively affect your mindset. Questions like — Am I the reason no one is with me right now? Do my loved ones care that I couldn’t be with them this year? and Do I deserve to feel this way? — begin to creep into the back of your mind.
And when you start to pile on the fact that the media, movies, and every store you walk into stress that the holidays are a season of togetherness, it’s no wonder that a solo holiday is challenging.
We’re here to tell you that you don’t need to feel that way!
Yes, it’s easy to give in to negative thoughts and allow yourself to sink into a negative way of thinking, but you don’t need to. Your current situation may be keeping you from seeing your loved ones, but we guarantee they aren’t having extra fun without you, and you 100 percent do not deserve to feel unhappy because you are by yourself.
How Not to Feel Lonely During the Holidays
You can take many approaches to stave off that lonely feeling as the holiday season rolls around.
Some people may gravitate toward finding others in the same situation and spending the holiday with them, while others may look for ways to find comfort in their alone time. Whatever solution you choose to help you enjoy your solo holiday season, remember that you’re making the right one.
You are the expert on what makes you happy, and trusting in yourself to find happiness during the holidays is a significant step toward finding a sense of peace while spending the season by yourself.
That being said, sometimes it’s good to have a little help when it comes to finding the best way to spread holiday cheer by yourself. Here are some of our favorite ways to shake off the solo holiday blues and get into a more festive mood.
Recreate Your Favorite Holiday Experiences
Choosing to reminisce on past celebrations you’ve had with friends and family may seem like it’s going to do the opposite of providing comfort during a holiday spent alone. However, dwelling on your most festive memories can help spark the joy you need as the season comes around.
Take a second to close your eyes and reflect on your favorite holiday experience. Maybe you’re sitting around a dinner table with loved ones, or perhaps you’re excitedly waiting to give your family a gift. Now that you have that memory in your head, think of how you could recreate that experience on your own.
You could decorate your home to mirror your past memories, dig up your favorite holiday recipe to make for yourself, or do some virtual holiday shopping that ships right to your loved one’s door.
Connecting with those past moments can help you shake off the feeling of loneliness during the holidays, regardless of how you do it.
Look for New Ways to Celebrate Your Favorite Holidays
If dwelling on past experiences doesn’t sound like the best way to reconnect with your holiday spirit, looking for new ways to celebrate this time of year could bring about some cheer.
Instead of cooking a holiday meal for one, perhaps you go out and treat yourself to dinner at that new restaurant you’ve wanted to try for months but never felt like it was the right time. Or, maybe you could purchase a ticket for a holiday concert performed by the local symphony.
Finding new ways to treat yourself during the holiday season is an excellent way to experience new things, branch out from your comfort zone, and maybe even help you create new traditions for years to come!
Reflect on What You Are Grateful For
Taking time to appreciate the little things and reframe your mindset with gratitude is an excellent way to combat the holiday blues.
It’s easy to let negative thoughts about everything you’re missing creep into your mind as the holiday season approaches, but you don’t have to let them stick around. A great way to eliminate a gloomy mood during this time of year is to participate in gratitude practice.
An excellent exercise for practicing gratitude is to break out your trusty journal — or to download a handy journaling app like Journey. Writing down all the positive things you have going for you and reflecting on how they make your life richer can help you see that just being alone this holiday season doesn’t mean your life is worse.
If you’re new to gratitude journaling, it may take some time to really appreciate the experience. But if you give it time and allow yourself to be open to the experience, you’ll feel the joy that comes from counting your blessings.
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Give Back to Your Community During the Holiday Season
Volunteering at local outreach programs is an excellent way to overcome your loneliness during the holidays. Spending time helping others helps you reset your mindset about what’s truly important and gives you a warm feeling of happiness that comes from volunteering.
Where and how you volunteer depends on what you want to do. You could spend time at the local food bank, serve a holiday dinner at a homeless shelter, or participate in delivering gifts to children with the local toy drive.
Choosing to volunteer your time to help others over the holiday season with a cause that resonates with you personally will help you bring out the joy of the season instead of dwelling on how you’re spending it alone.
Connect with Others Who Are Spending the Holidays Solo
One thing to keep in mind as you approach the holiday season is that you’re not the only one in your area who is spending it all by yourself.
It could be tempting to lock yourself away in your home and avoid the world as you approach the holiday season by yourself, but self-isolation will only increase your feelings of loneliness. Instead, look for ways to connect with others in your community who may be looking to spend time with others who are spending the holidays alone.
If you enjoy exercise, choosing to participate in a festive 5k could be just the thing you need to meet others who are spending the season on their own. You could also join/create a social media group for other people who are flying solo during the season and plan times to meet up throughout the holidays.
Whatever your strategy, choosing to form bonds with new people during what could be an otherwise lonely time could be just what you need to enjoy your holiday alone.
Use Technology to Spend Time with Loved Ones
You may not physically be with your loved ones during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to see them!
Hopping on a FaceTime chat with your family or planning a virtual celebration may not feel like sitting together in the same room, but it definitely beats a short check-in phone call. Seeing the faces of the people you love can boost your mood during the holiday season.
And if you do decide to throw a virtual holiday party with friends and family, have fun with it! Everyone could decorate their homes together with their favorite holiday beverages, or maybe you could plan a festive family movie night with the watch party feature on your favorite streaming service.
Whatever you choose, finding a virtual way to celebrate with your family beats spending your holiday on your own and wondering what they are doing without you.
Always Remember to Be Gentle With Yourself During the Holidays
If you’ve been thinking, This all sounds great, but I don’t think I’m ready for it — don’t worry.
You don’t need to force yourself into celebrating the season on your own if you aren’t in the mood for it. Maybe it would suit you better to treat the holidays like an ordinary day this year, or maybe you should just focus on making it through the season.
Whatever the case may be for you, don’t be hard on yourself for feeling like something is missing throughout the season. Life is challenging and can become even more difficult as you approach a time when the world around you focuses on joy and togetherness. In those difficult moments, give yourself permission to be gentle with yourself.
Loneliness is a natural feeling, and even if you try your best to fight it, there’s still a chance it may work into your solo holiday season. During those times when you feel like there’s an increased sense of isolation or that something just feels off because you’re on your own, take a second to breathe.
Pause, concentrate on the feeling of isolation you are experiencing, meditate on what that feels like, and take a deep breath in. Then, as you breathe out, let that feeling go and embrace the idea that being alone doesn’t mean you need to feel isolated.
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Just Because You’re Alone Doesn’t Mean You Need to Be Lonely
Spending the holidays alone may seem like a harrowing experience as you approach the season, but it IS possible to thrive during a solo holiday season.
As long as you allow yourself some patience, practice self-care, and take things one step at a time, you may find that spending the season by yourself opens the door for new opportunities you wouldn’t traditionally have. It all comes down to how you want to approach this time of year and having an open mind about reframing how you view the holidays.
Here’s to finding greatness in your upcoming holiday season (and maybe adopting a new solo holiday tradition or two)!