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Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFTSally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT
A blog about mental and emotional health

Single and Alone for the Holidays? 6 Strategies for Surviving and Even Thriving the Holidays Alone

Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT Updated: Dec 19th 2011

Are you single and feeling lonely and alone this holiday season? If so, you are not alone...in those feelings.

ornaments in snowWhat is it about the holidays that makes single people feel more lonely than at any other time in the year?

Some of it is because of the media. Movies, television shows and even commercials share stories that can highlight the “different-ness” of those not coupled. Holiday invitations and parties 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.

There are, however, things that you can do to build 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 employ right now to help you survive and maybe even thrive through this season.

1. Accept the Fact that you ARE Single and Embrace the Good Parts of “Single-hood”.

Don’t allow thoughts or feelings of desperation to 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.

2. 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. Look for ways to create meaning in these holidays for yourself that are realistic.

3. Share the Holidays with Others

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. Adopt each other for the season.

4. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

Rather than focusing on what is missing, pay attention to the goodness 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.

5. Do Something for Others

Do something for others even if you don’t think you will receive thanks. 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 lift their burden.

6. Honor Some Old Rituals and Consider Developing New Ones

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 new situations.

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.

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.

 

Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT

Sally Connolly, LCSW, LMFT has been a therapist for over 30 years, specializing in work with couples, families and relationships. She has expertise with clients both present in the room as well as online through email, phone and chat therapy. She has written numerous articles about solving couple and relationship dilemmas. Many of them can be found on her website, Counseling Relationships Online, or her blog, Relationship Dilemmas.

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