The holidays are commonly seen as a time to spread happiness amongst your family and friends, but honestly, there are far too many benefits to spending them alone. You don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions about your love life or what you’re doing after graduation from family members you only see a few times a year. You don’t have to start off your New Year on the unfortunate note of grimacing at sweaty, drunken crowds at a bar you don’t want to be at. And honestly, watching the ball drop on television is only entertaining because you’re not standing in the same place for hours frozen stiff while doing it.
The only issue is trying to make it a little more enjoyable for you. Yes, you’re avoiding buying gifts for people who may not even be worth your money, but it can still be hard to avoid being cooped up in your room thinking about all the fun everyone else may be having this holiday season. Regardless of how you’re spending the holidays, this is still a time of year that should be enjoyable and uplifting for everybody.
But the cold weather and darker days can often bring in a gloomy atmosphere instead of a festive one. The holiday season is a busy one for retail workers, who find themselves working day in and out, too tired for any festivities by the time the day’s over. The shimmering images on social media of other people’s holiday activities can lead to negative thoughts if you can’t help comparing your own experiences to them.
On the most serious note, seasonal affective disorder may come into swing for some, a problem which stretches well beyond winter gloominess and may require light therapy or medication. It’s a type of depression rooted in seasonal changes, seeing symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, low energy and a loss of interest in hobbies, among others.
Whether you’re swamped with work responsibilities, persevering through mental health issues or simply feel as though the holidays aren’t living up to high expectations, there are still plenty of ways to make the holiday season a good one if you’re feeling alone.
It’s cliche but self care truly is the best place to start. Maybe buy yourself some presents for once. The holiday season is generally home to tons of new products, bundles and sales; if you’re ever going to treat yourself, now is certainly the time to do it. Get yourself something you’ve been dying for, something worth looking forward to when you come home or even just something to help relax and soothe you. If that’s not an option, sitting back at home with a classic feel-good holiday movie and some hot chocolate surely is. You have time to spend alone; use it to rest, recharge and take good care of yourself to ensure you don’t fall into any pits of negativity and loneliness.
Many tend to spend the holidays traveling and you can still do the same, even if it’s alone. It doesn’t have to be a whole continent away — even a simple day trip to another city could suffice. It gives you a whole new world to explore and plenty to occupy yourself and your mind with. Plus, venturing out into the world and doing things alone is a great way to build confidence and independence.
When the holidays roll around, there’s also plenty of charities and volunteer opportunities that do as well, either catering towards the holiday season or in high demand because of them. If you don’t feel like doing something for yourself, doing something for other people is a productive and uplifting way to spend the holiday season. Look around for local ways to give back to the community this holiday season; even small things, like random acts of kindness, are always helpful. It’ll brighten your season up a little bit more when you know you’ve brightened someone else’s.
Finally, even if you’re feeling alone, know you’re not. Reach out to people: family, friends, even acquaintances or a therapist if need be. Being alone on the holidays doesn’t have to be lonely.