Staying Alone for the Holidays? Here’s How to Find Joy in Solitude
Thanksgiving vibes are still here, and soon, Christmas commercials will appear everywhere. But while holidays are the most wonderful time of the year to some, many people find it the most difficult time of the year.
If you’re wondering how to get through the holidays when you don’t have any loved ones you could spend them with, this article is for you.
9 ways to turn lonely holidays around and enjoy them
When you’re single or don’t have close family members, you might dread the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
However, even though your holidays might be different from how they’re usually done, it doesn’t mean they have to be miserable, sad, and emotionally overwhelming.
Here’s how you can find joy in solitude.
1. Start your day with gratitude
Being alone for the holidays isn’t easy. However, you can still become at peace with your situation by accepting it first. You might not have a big family or a loved one to celebrate with, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s nothing in your life to be happy about.
Thanksgiving and Christmas, in particular, are not just about being around your loved ones but also about expressing gratitude, which is something you can practice on your own too.
It can be as simple as sitting down and thinking about all the things that make your life happy and worthwhile such as your job, your health, your pet, your hobbies, or even your favorite movie.
If you’re currently grieving, warmly remind yourself of the times you spent with your loved one, process your emotions, and try to be thankful that you got to experience them.
2. Consider volunteering
Even if it might seem like you’re the loneliest person in the world, you aren’t the only one spending holidays alone. The best way to put things into perspective and occupy yourself is by becoming a volunteer.
For example, you could help take care of seniors at a care home or watch your neighbor’s children when they’re out.
Giving back to the community can:
- Increase your sense of purpose
- Boost your self-esteem
- And most importantly, distract you from loneliness if it’s overwhelming to you
A study published in the Social Science & Medicine journal revealed that volunteering can contribute to a feeling of happiness by increasing empathetic feelings and emotions.
This might be because when you interact with other people and help them, especially those who are less fortunate than you, you get to see life through a different lens and gain self-confidence, which might help you cope with your circumstances better.
3. Treat yourself
While Christmas is associated with spending time with your family, it’s the feeling of love that makes it so magical and not just the presence of other people.
If you had to be around a critical mother or father who neglects your needs, your holiday would be far from the image you see in the media. This is why you don’t necessarily need relatives to have a wonderful time.
When you’re alone for Christmas, you can focus on expressing love towards yourself and practicing self-care instead. Self-care isn’t one-size-fits-all: for some, it might be treating themselves to their favorite meal or a hot bath, while others might want to buy themselves a gift for mental health.
Whatever it is for you, make sure it’s something that promotes your well-being. If you’re stuck, it can be useful to imagine that you have to help cheer up a friend and go from there.
4. Use the Internet to your advantage
Since Thanksgiving and Christmas are known as family holidays, you might feel like the only right way to celebrate them is by joining a large gathering with your loved ones.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of people out there who spend it with their friends or on their own. Luckily, thanks to how advanced our technology is, you can easily find other people in a similar situation on an online forum or a Facebook group.
Even though they might be based far away, you can always organize a video conference and make sure no one has to suffer from loneliness this holiday season.
You might end up making new friends or at least see things from a different perspective: some people are newly single, and it’s their first holiday alone, while others might be grieving the death of their loved one, and some want to stay away from an abusive family.
Even if your stories differ, you can still connect through spending holidays in a non-typical, fun way.
5. Fight the urge to check social media
Social media is a double-edged sword for those who struggle with loneliness.
On the one hand, you might feel like you don’t exist unless you share content and like posts. On the other hand, having a glimpse into other people’s seemingly perfect lives can make you feel worse if you’re prone to social comparison.
And it’s especially unhelpful around the holiday period as it can be a constant stigmatizing reminder that you’ll be spending it alone – and as if it’s something bad when actually, it’s not.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to use holidays as an opportunity to try a digital detox. When you reduce the time spent on social media, you’ll have more time to be productive and engage in activities that replenish your mind and body.
Additionally, studies show that smartphone use is linked to higher depression and anxiety rates. So limiting time on digital devices can prevent you from being sad during the holidays because you won’t feel like you’re missing out.
6. Use your free time to be productive
While it might seem like having a big family to spend holidays with is the ideal scenario, it’s not always as great as it’s shown in movies.
Many people have even more work to do during the holiday period than usual and can’t wait for it to be over so they can finally put their feet up.
The silver lining of your situation is that since you have no one to cook for and, perhaps, fewer holiday home chores, you can have more time to work on a project you’ve been postponing, clean the house, sort out your taxes, or just relax.
Think of things you’ve been neglecting and consider how you can use the time you have to be more productive.
7. Connect with your self-growth needs
Being lonely isn’t just feeling sad but also experiencing a sense of disconnection.
When you don’t have many people around you, you might find it difficult to connect with your other needs. And when you aren’t connected to your needs, you might struggle with solitude despite having someone in your life.
According to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need to belong and connect with people is only one of five levels of the pyramid. The most important need is considered to be self-actualization which is associated with living up to your potential and cultivating self-growth.
For some people, it might look like becoming an accomplished artist, for others – contributing to society through volunteering or making scientific discoveries. Whatever makes you feel fulfilled, consider what could bring you closer to your final goal.
For example, if you like being creative, make sure to engage in your hobbies as often as possible during this holiday period. And if you enjoy helping people, volunteering might make you feel like you’re doing what you’re meant to do.
8. Consider traveling
Sometimes the best way to deal with holiday anxiety is to replace it with excitement. While spending holidays on your own may not be ideal, it also means that you have more free time than other people: you don’t have to worry about buying presents, cooking, or cleaning the house.
If you have some money saved up on top of that, you should consider going somewhere where you can take your mind off things and connect with other solo travelers who might be suffering from loneliness.
While it might seem to be an escape from your problems, it’s a great opportunity to relax and focus on doing things you enjoy. You might also end up learning more about yourself.
Perhaps, you’ll return from your trip with a different perspective on your situation or an idea of how to cope with it better in the future.
9. Don’t hesitate to seek extra support when things become too much
When you’re alone for the holidays, it’s easy to end up feeling depressed. According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people who experience mental health problems say that their condition worsens between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
But as common as it is to feel especially depressed during the holiday, it’s not a reason to ignore it. It’s always a good idea to get in touch with a mental health professional when you can no longer cope on your own.
Consider therapy during this holiday season
Those who suffer during the holiday period the most might have experienced a significant event in their lives that make them feel especially lonely, such as bereavement or a recent breakup.
Therapy can help them learn better coping skills, process grief, and plan for the future.
If you feel like you’re too sad to even leave the house, you should consider working with an online therapist that can guide you through your feelings from the comfort of your home.
All in all, taking care of your mental health and being compassionate to yourself are some of the best holiday activities you should try.
Joanna Cakala is a multilingual writer based in the UK. Combining a degree in Psychology and passion for writing, she writes the articles on mental health across a broad variety of subjects such as self-development, personality disorders, PTSD, mindfulness, and autism.Read more