Single for the holidays? You are not alone. Our Austin-based professional matchmaker and relationship expert Julia McCurley weighs in on how you can beat the blues and have the time of your life during the holiday season.
As the holidays loom ahead, all those party invitations begin to arrive. Should you go alone or skip them? What do you say when people ask you what you are doing for the holidays? Should you even be casually dating with the pressure of having to buy a gift? And of course, there is the most dreaded event of the year by singles…New Year’s Eve.
How about you? Are you single and feeling a tad lonely this holiday season? If so, you are not alone in those feelings. What is it about the holidays that can sometimes make single people feel more lonely than at any other time in the year? Some of it is because of the movies, television shows and even commercials share stories that can highlight the “different-ness” of those not coupled. Holiday invitations and parties that include spouses and guests and attending alone can feel lonely. The holidays tend to highlight many emotions, both good and bad. When loneliness is prevalent, it is often hard not to focus on the alone and loneliness more than other emotions and thoughts.
Worry no more. There are things you can do to create a way of thinking and acting that allows you the ability to enjoy your life, even when you are alone. Here are some strategies for you to engage right now to help you survive, and even thrive, through the season.
Accept the Fact that you are single and embrace the great parts of singledom. Try not to allow thoughts or feelings of desperation seduce you into doing things that do not fit with who you are just to find a partner. This is especially important if you are newly single. Take things slowly and learn to appreciate the many good things of being “un-partnered”. You may need to spend some time grieving a lost relationship. If that is the case, then talk out loud about it. Write about it. Cry about it, if that helps. Do a little work to understand the meaning of it in your life and then find ways to let it go, at least for awhile. Be kind to yourself.
Hopes And Dreams
Meet the holidays with realistic expectations. You may fantasize about your hopes and dreams for the holidays, however, it may only be hopes and dreams. Be realistic about yourself and your life as you move into the holidays. Look for small positive things and focus on them rather than what is missing and for ways to create meaning in these holidays for yourself that are realistic.
Share And Share Alike
Why not share the holidays with others? If your family is too far away to visit, this may be a good time to spend with another family … or not. Sometimes when you are with others who are connected, it only makes your connections more noticeable. Have a conversation with yourself and decide whether or not this is a good plan for you. Instead, you might want to pass the word around the office or neighborhood that you will be on your own and find out if there are others who might be alone as well. Start an “orphan family” tradition for others who are also without family and have them over for cocktails or dinner, therefore adopting each other for the season.
Attitude For Gratitude
Rather than focusing on what is missing, pay attention to the goodness that is actually present. Begin a holiday gratitude journal by writing each night about what you are grateful for that day. The more that you think and talk about the good in your life, the more you will feel the good in your life. When you change your thoughts and actions, feelings will eventually catch up and become a way of positive thinking.
Something For Others
Do something for others even if you do not think you will directly receive thanks for it. The act of thinking about another person and doing something special for them helps put your own life in a different perspective. It feels good to help someone else and try to lift their burden. Adopting a family is very worth cause. So many in your community may be close to the poverty line and would appreciate a home cooked meal and gifts for the kids even if they are just from the dime store.
Old And New Rituals
Rituals help promote a sense of well-being. Old ones can provide a sense of continuity through times of transition while developing new ones aids in accommodating to a new situation. Evaluate which rituals you want to keep and consider developing any new ones that might mark the positive things about you or your life right now. How about skipping the traditional holiday tree and getting a chic tabletop tree branch on which to hang special ornaments? If you always went to a traditional holiday play, why not try a holiday farce comedy at the community theater?
Above all, remember that the holidays are only a few weeks. They do not last forever and you will find yourself ready to embark on a new year with a new attitude that can last all of 2014 and beyond.