The holidays are fast approaching and for some that means joy and for others sadness. Expectations surrounding what the holidays are supposed to look like can lead many to feel sad, anxious, and even fall into depression during the holiday season. The holidays are traditionally associated with being with family and loved ones. They are supposed to be a magical time when we are with our significant other and sharing laughter and happy moments with them and family. However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, this isn’t the case more often than not.
If you are single and alone during the holidays this year, you may feel lonely, sad, and fearful. It seems when a person is single during the holidays, all they see are the happy couples and families celebrating. This can further increase feelings of despair during this memorable time of year. But, it’s important to look at the facts, not just how you may feel. According to the United States Census Bureau, there are about 124.6 million single adults in the United States. That’s just over 50% of the U.S. population that is single.
That means that not just you, but many others are single and alone for the holidays. While some may have more friends and others more family to spend time with, traditionally many people who are single feel sad and lonely during the holidays. This, in part, can be from antiquated expectations. For example, in the 1950s only 20% of the U.S. population was single. During these years, being alone during the holidays definitely stood out making the individual feel even more alone.
Today, however, it’s quite different. Not only are millions of Americans single, but millions are also celebrating the holidays in new and different ways. If you feel lonely this holiday season—or any other time of year—it may be time to readjust your expectations and start some of your own traditions.
Here are seven tips on how to cope with being single during the holidays and even enjoy them.
1. Ditch perfection
As mentioned in the 1950s only 20% of the U.S. adult population was single. This led to many forming ideas of the perfect couple, the perfect family, the perfect relationship, and the perfect holiday celebrations. While this may be realistic in the movies, today, this often isn’t the case. From blended families to same-sex marriages, a lot has changed. Clinging to the ideas of the past and how your situation should look at the holidays is dangerous. Many times we get unknowingly caught up in this idea of perfection and hold ourselves to it. This is particularly true during the holidays. This year, don’t do it. Embrace whatever your situation is and be grateful for the many things you do have. That can begin with being able to read and having somewhere to lay your head (if you’re so fortunate.) Break free from old ideals and expectations of what the holidays should look and feel like for you.
2. Reach out
You may or may not have a group of friends and family you can reach out to during the holiday season and year-round. If you do, reconnect with them. You can plan something to do or try to get together. However, just reaching out and connecting can help you alleviate feelings of loneliness during the holidays. If you don’t, then nows the time to try to forge new bonds and friendships. This is easier said than done for many, especially in the age of COVID. However, there are some groups that connect people for social interactions, not just romantic ones. Check out some of these friendship apps that are helping like-minded people connect and form friendships:
This app joins like-minded individuals based on their likes and dislikes. You can find individuals who want to meet up for a happy hour or those who are interested in taking nature hikes.
This free app allows users to meet online, get to know each other in that venue, and also has specific interest groups and allows you to live stream with new friends.
- Bumble BFF
This female-centered dating app, Bumble, has now expanded to connecting females with other females for friendship.
With this friendship app, individuals take an introductory survey assessing their interests. After that, you are matched with males and females who have at least one similar interest.
- Hey! Vina
This free app was created to empower women through female friendships. Similar to Tinder, you can swipe left or right based on possible friends’ locations, mutual friends, and shared interests.
All of these apps have free versions you can check out today. While you may feel reluctant and even silly to join one of these online sites to make friends, just like dating, it is the way the world is going in meeting and making friends. As people move from city to city, state to state, and even country to country, these apps provide enormous support in finding friends and social groups with like interests.
3. Plan your own way
The holidays are often steeped in tradition. When we are disconnected from these traditions it can lead to more feelings of isolation and loneliness. This year, why not plan those most significant days for yourself. If you aren’t able to connect with family or friends on the holidays (many won’t be again this year due to COVID concerns) why not plan your own day? You can incorporate some of your favorite parts of the holiday traditions with some new themes. For example, if you love turkey but won’t be celebrating anywhere this year how about making your own turkey with all the trimmings you love. Planning, preparing, and executing this will occupy your mind and maybe even make you feel accomplished. You don’t have to wait to be invited somewhere you can make your own holiday traditions this year.
4. Pamper yourself
Self-care and self-love are vital to ward off feelings of loneliness any time of year. At the holidays, as many more acutely feel these pains of being alone it’s important to treat yourself well. From a bubble bath and favorite meal to a massage or even a trip, taking time to care for yourself will help ease feelings of loneliness. When you like spending time with yourself, it’s much harder to feel lonely.
5. Count your blessings
It can be easy to fall into self-pity when you’re alone at the holidays but if you take a look there are really a lot of things to be grateful for in your life. No matter how down and out you may be, you can find reasons to be grateful if you look honestly at your life. For example, do you have a roof over your head? Do you have eyes to be able to read and see things? Do you have one person you can call a friend? Are you in recovery from alcohol or drugs? We all have a lot to be grateful for in life. When you take a moment each day to really start appreciating what you have—even if you think it’s not much—you’ll start seeing more that you are grateful for and these things will start to multiply.
It may sound odd but when you’re feeling down reaching out to help someone else is one of the best ways to feel better. Whether you volunteer somewhere or simply help out an elderly neighbor this can help you to get out of your own head. This alone can do wonders for feelings of loneliness and isolation. In addition, volunteering increases one’s self-esteem and self-confidence. When you feel lonely this can help tremendously.
7. Embrace it all
Your life may not be ideal today but as mentioned there’s always a lot to be grateful for in life. Accepting your circumstances exactly as they are and knowing that you are exactly where you are supposed to be can really help with eliminating feelings of loneliness and sadness. When you embrace your life exactly as it is today, you’ll start to see more good and feel better.
Being alone at the holidays can be tough, but it can also be an opportunity to find new traditions, new friends, and be happy with what you have and where you are. Remember, life isn’t stagnant and is always changing. If you are alone at the holidays, find ways to nurture yourself and others to ward off these feelings. It’s okay to feel lonely but remember, you may still have a lot to be grateful for and there are ways to find others who may be feeling lonely too.
If your loneliness and sadness have been going on for a while or you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mood issues, Futures Recovery Healthcare is here for you. We have an inpatient mental health program to help support those with mental illnesses to heal and recover. You don’t have to go it alone. Call us today at 866-804-2098 or visit us online.