Few things are more difficult on a lonely heart than the holiday season. Between the children laughing, the people passing, the cheerful carols, and the bright festive lights, the holidays can make some of us want to join our bear friends and hibernate until Spring. You may find yourself deciding which is harder to face; the bitter cold of our relentless winter months, or the happy couples sipping hot coco on skates. While the beauty and excitement of the holidays can fill many of us with gratitude and joy, it can likewise bring a lot of pain to others who may be suffering with one of the most difficult human emotions; loneliness. Whether you are single, missing someone who made every December special, or spending the holidays away from your family and loved ones at home, if your anthems this year are Elvis’ ‘Blue Christmas,’ or any of the other bluer tracks, read our tips to get through the festive months with as little heartache and as much positivity as possible.
As we have every lonely heart in mind; those who have suffered a loss, who are single this holiday season, or who are away from home, some of these may apply to you while others may not, but there should be something to gather for everyone.
Connect and Keep Busy
This is often the advice given to the newly single individual or someone who has suffered a significant loss as it can go a long way in changing emotional states and lifting morale. If you are away from your family or loved ones because of circumstance, perhaps school or work, connecting could mean Skyping or calling them regularly to keep in touch, using social media to share messages with those far away, or simply connecting with those around you; an eccentric flatmate or colleague, for example, even if you feel a connection is unlikely. Sometimes feeling far away from the people we care about most can open our eyes to new incidental friendships and relationships. If you are missing someone special or ruminating about being single for the holidays, get out there and connect. Visit your closest coffee shop and read a book or browse the internet instead of doing so alone at home. Maybe have a chat with the cute barista? Another great way to keep busy and channel your emotions in a positive manner is to volunteer. It feels great to bring some light and warmth to the less fortunate and interact with good people. There are countless organizations who open their doors to volunteers year round, but especially during the holidays. Getting involved is an excellent way to fill up those long and lonesome winter days. Making an effort to get out of the house and meet some new people is the goal here. Don’t have a date for NYE yet? It’s only December 8th, giddy-up and get out there, you may just find one when you least expect it (pardon the cliché, it’s simply the truth).
Invest in Yourself
If you don’t have a special someone to spoil this year, why not make that person yourself? If you are the generous type and find it difficult not to have someone you can shower in thoughtful gifts and words from the heart, perhaps take the opportunity to spoil yourself, a close friend, or relative that means a lot to you. Splurge on something you’ve been wanting but couldn’t justify spending on, schedule a spa day either at home or somewhere lavish, treat yourself to a massage, a shopping spree, a new hair cut, or take the extra time to work on your self-improvement goals if you’ve been putting them off. Perhaps wait until January for anything diet-related though. I know I read three classic novels and learned two new songs on the piano one lonely December. It felt great. Investing in yourself is about finally recognizing that your needs and desires are paramount. Once you feel rested, refreshed, and good about yourself, you will have the energy and confidence you need to strive for the things you truly want in your life. But first, a little eggnog and R&R.
Being grateful for your blessings is not the same thing as making downward comparisons; ‘sure I’m having a tough time but others are far worse off than I…’ While this may help us realize just how much we do have to be grateful for, it can sometimes belittle and dismiss what we are going through. It’s okay to feel depressed and wish the reality of your circumstances was different, and although you may be so down you feel that nothing else counts, in the midst of it all, try making a list of all the things you do have in your life. Things that would make your situation even worse if absent; a loving and supportive family, a close friend you can share anything with, a warm and comfortable home, delicious food, a good job, career, or education, your pet, your health. There are countless things to be grateful for, albeit difficult to list when you’re feeling alone and down in the dumps. Perhaps you can make it a challenging exercise and get some laughs out of it. Anything counts; stovetop stuffing, The Tonight Show, your duvet, anything…
Fake it Till You Make it
I like this one because it pushes us to put a smile on, and step outside our comfort zones for some new positive experiences, but acknowledges the fact that we are indeed faking it, initially of course. Essentially, this tip is really about choosing to accept invitations if you are declining them to stay home and wallow in negativity. It’s about perhaps enjoying some of the festive activities the holidays bring (only if you previously enjoyed them of course, we don’t want to force Christmas spirit on anyone), such as watching holiday movies, baking, putting on some carols, skating, tobogganing, making a snowman or having a classic snow ball fight with friends. Even if it brings back some painful memories, or exposes you to some sights you’d rather not see, you may find great release and pleasure in making new memories of the things you used to enjoy this time of year. You may gain some new perspective, loosen the knot in your chest, and meet some new people. The best thing about faking it until you make it, is that you’re not really lying to yourself along the way; the faking is about challenging yourself to keep your chin up even though you may rather not, facing what you’ve been avoiding, and the making, well, once you’ve made it, you’ll know it’s genuine and it will feel like a huge weight has been lifted. The only thing that is certain, is that negativity breeds more negativity. Make an effort to change matters, even if it’s a struggle, and you’ll have a chance at a different outcome.
This is a good tip for those who have trouble being alone, and simply spending time with themselves. As an only child, I have developed an appreciation for my own company, but I know this certainly isn’t the case for many individuals. Whether your loneliness this holiday season is the result of being far from home, missing someone you’ve lost, or wishing you had a significant other to share the magic with, making efforts to enjoy the quiet alone time can be a truly enlightening experience. Besides treating yourself to a holiday movie or cookie or tree trimming marathon, you could take the time to reflect on your goals or set some new ones, learn something about yourself, and truly discover what it is that you want and need in your life. Sit back and imagine what your holiday season will be like next year. It will only lessen your negative emotions and bring you closer to achieving it in 2015.
No matter how down and out we may feel this time of year, for a multitude of reasons; be it the cold or the blues, there is always something to look forward to. If you’re missing your family, think about how nice it will be when you are reunited. If you’ve lost someone you love, or are wishing you didn’t have to go to all those family functions without someone on your arm, think about how great it will feel to share a holiday season with someone who is truly right for you. If you just want the holiday buzz to be over already, think of your next summer vacation, where will you go? Who will you travel with? Look forward to the good things ahead; both those you can already foresee, and those that may take a little more time and effort to materialize.
Sure, there are a slue of reasons to feel down about a lonesome holiday season, without someone special by your side, without mom’s turkey, without the snow and mistletoe, but there are just as many reasons to turn it around and focus on the positive aspects of our lives. There is a silver lining on every blue Christmas. We hope you find yours.
Wishing you the very best of December…