Alone For The Holidays
Here, 5 tips for having a happy holiday season if you’re alone
By Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo
If you are single, divorced, widowed, or recently separated, it’s not uncommon to feel unhappy or even depressed during the holiday season. With all the images of couples and families smiling at each other, it is easy to feel like you are missing out on all the fun.
Even worse, many of my single clients think there is something wrong with them because they are alone. To make matters worse, people in their lives, and society as a whole, do not always help with this sense of being an outcast.
Let’s look at the top 5 tips to having a happy holiday when you are alone:
Be with friends — old or new. Social support is a proven buffer to depression. So spend time with people you like. Are all of your friends with their families? Then make new ones. They do not need to be your favorite people in the world, or even someone who you really know well. Look for people who are also alone and you might like to get to know better. Maybe it is a co-worker, neighbor or person you see at the gym. Think of fun things to do that will not seem awkward. For example, you may want to have them over for Chinese takeout or make-your-own pizza dinner rather than a more traditional menu. Or go do something, like going on a snowshoe hike or taking in the latest released movie.
Volunteer. Reaching out to help others boosts your happiness is so many ways. Not only will you no longer be alone, but you will also feel great about helping out other people. Volunteering helps boost our self-confidence and helps us appreciate what we have in our lives, rather than focusing on what we do not have. How can you find the best volunteering match for you? Choose a group about which you feel passionate: the elderly, homeless, children stuck in the hospital, animals, nature. Then look for opportunities to lend a helping hand. For example, if you are an animal lover, contact your local animal shelter to see if you can spend some time giving TLC to the orphaned puppies or homeless felines.
Pick a Project. This may be a great time to do that item on your to-do list that has been staring at you for a while: cleaning out a closet, organizing your photos, rearranging your bedroom. Take advantage of this time alone. And just think of how great it will feel to have the task completed, and what a wonderful gift to give to yourself.
Travel. Jump in your car and go somewhere — anywhere. Or look on-line for last minute deals. Get in touch with a friend you haven’t seen for a while and plan to visit them. Or, if that is too adventurous for you, be a tourist in your own town. Go to your local museum, try out a new restaurant (even if for take-out) or check out the attractions near you. Enjoy the new experiences.
Take a “you” inventory. So often we go though life as if on automatic pilot. We get up, go to work, come home, watch TV and then crash in bed. Take this opportunity of “you time” to really figure out… you. Who are you? What are your strengths? What are your goals? What are your most important values and how can you apply them? Research shows that making conscious decisions to spend your time applying your values and strengths promotes greater happiness and health.
Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, is a psychologist, physical therapist and author of the bestselling book A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. She has been quoted by some of today’s top media outlets including CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Woman’s Day, Glamour, Self, Woman’s World, Health and Real Simple. Visit www.AHappyYou.com for more information. And order A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness today!