Years ago, I went through a difficult divorce and found myself alone on Christmas Eve for the first time in almost 20 years. My children were with their father and our usual Christmas Eve traditions were turned upside down for me. I certainly was grieving and felt very alone. Over the years I learned to cherish my alone times and developed some special traditions just for me. These 5 Steps turned grief into quiet joy and enhanced my holidays. Maybe they will help you as well.
For many single persons whether unmarried, divorced or widowed, the holidays can bring about an acute awareness of your singleness. So much of the holidays are focused on family gatherings, couples laughing and enjoying each other in media and in public situations that being alone for the holidays is sometimes experienced as isolation with a side of loneliness and sometimes even depression. (If you have suffered a loss of a loved one this year read this)
Date Yourself! One way to improve your holidays this year is to date yourself! Instead of focusing on what you don’t have – someone to go to the movies with, someone to dine with, someone to give you a gift – take stock of your favorite things to do and do them!!! If you enjoy the movies, go! You get to pick exactly the movie you want, go when you want, you can eat all the popcorn without sharing, laugh out loud or cry and not concern yourself with whether or not anyone else is enjoying themselves. Sure you might feel awkward, do it anyway. If you enjoy eating out, go. Pick a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. If you start to feel uncomfortable being a party of one shift your focus to what you like about the experience.
Get to know yourself. Not sure how to date yourself? Journal, ask yourself – “Self, what would you like to do today/this evening?” (Yes, I did this) Listen to yourself with the same attention you would a friend. You matter! You might be surprised at your answers once you ask the question. Send yourself flowers, buy yourself a gift you might not otherwise have considered because you are so practical. (Do keep in mind a spending plan as this is actually an exercise in self-care, just as is not overindulging in drink or food.) Make your favorite foods – yes, you are worth it! Write a love letter to yourself, accepting all your quirks and goodness. Actually mail it to yourself!
Create a gratitude list. Write down all the things (people, places, things) you are grateful for this season. Focus on gratitude has a surprising ability to lift your mood. What we focus on evokes feelings. Remember this, catch yourself if you start to feel sorry for yourself and get back to your gratitude list.
Reach out to others. Since we are social beings, reach out to others you know who are single. Create your own “family”. Allow yourself to talk about your struggles with being single during the holidays and limit the amount of time you are going to allow this. Start new traditions around the holidays. Go ice skating or to the malls so you are in the company of others.
Give. Share your time, talents and treasure with those less fortunate. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food pantry. Adopt a family and provide them with a holiday meal and/or gifts. Anonymously donate a decorated tree or leave small wrapped gifts on an elderly neighbor’s porch.
Listen to yourself, accept where you are today, practice self-care and embrace gratitude to make this holiday season a special time just for you.