Holidays always stir up feelings of nostalgia. The sights, smells and images of things you did with your ex are more than likely to give you the holiday blues. "I always feel the most alone during the holidays" I remember saying often during the days following my separation.
The holidays were a time I dreaded most. While everyone around me was excited at the time away from the office, for me the idea of being alone and not being busy at work, filled me with dread.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed to prevent the blues, but there are a few ideas I will suggest which may help.
Tip #1 – Start planning your holiday now
Yes, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, New Years or any other significant holiday might seem ages away, but start planning your free time now. In other words, start planning early and way in advance so that you are mentally prepared before you start thinking about how you will be alone over that period.
Pull out a diary, check which days you will not be working. Start thinking about how you will spend the days. Is there anything you haven’t done for which you have needed free time to take care of?
Tip #2 – Do service and help others.
It’s amazing how helping others makes us feel good about ourselves. There are so many ways to get involved in helping. This does not mean donating money to charity, its means getting personally involved.
If you are a member of a local religious or volunteer group, chances are they will have something for you to help with, especially during a holiday. You could find an organized food bank that needs help to prepare and serve meals to those less fortunate.
Another easy suggestion to help others: Why not simply visit or invite an elderly neighbor to talk or maybe eat something together? Elderly people often find themselves alone during this time and spending your time with them will help you as much as it helps them.
How about finding others where you work who are also alone for the holidays and do something together?
Tip #3 – Don’t withdraw from your key relationships
Feeling alone on a holiday often makes us want to withdraw from other people’s company. We find ourselves absorbed in self-pity. We find ourselves wondering about our ex. We think about the times we spent together. We find ourselves wondering how things could have been different had we made different choices. This will only make you feel worse.
Instead, seek out those you are close too. Withdrawing from our existing special relationships will only make things worse. Of course it’s unlikely that you will be as happy as everyone around you, but your being there is important. It will help, if only a little bit, connect with people that care about you.
Your choosing to be with them sends a message. A message which states, that even while you are not feeling great you want to be with the people you care about. This is the time to connect with those with whom you have a special relationship with.
Tip #4 – Don’t overeat
If, like me, you are from an "ethnic family" (whatever that means these days!), then during holidays usually I find a larger than usual quantity of food placed in front of me. It goes without saying that overeating will make you feel nauseous. In my case, I also feel guilty after overeating as it goes straight to my waist. Getting fatter doesn’t make me feel any better and definitely makes me feel blue.
So, I suggest you eat slowly, drink lots of water and try to select which foods you eat. If you’re going to eat holiday foods, pick the good stuff and savor it by eating it slowly.
Oh yes, getting drunk will mean a hangover and that will definitely ruin your holiday.
Tip #5 – Connect to the spirit of the holiday.
Isn’t it amazing how many of us celebrate a holiday tradition year after year and never learn much about it? For the next holiday, try doing some research into its history or maybe try to recreate some of your family traditions with friends.
There are some great web sites that will help you research the holiday and help connect you with the reason it’s celebrated.
Try celebrating with specific holidays foods. Find an old recipe book and try making something specific for that holiday.
Continue to decorate and try making some of the decorations yourself.
Resist the temptation not to do this, as you are now alone.
Tip 6 – Experience nature
Get outdoors, visit a nature park, walk along a mountain trail, go to a beach, sit outside and wonder about the mystery of nature, watch ocean waves, ride a bike, go stargazing.
All of these activities will connect you with the wonder of life. Yes, your life is chaotic but try to see imagine your life having seasons as in nature. The times you are facing now will pass just like after the most violent storm, the sun shines afterwards.
Tip #7 – Spoil yourself
Plan to do something you haven’t had time to do while working. Here are a few examples, take a long bubble bath, get a pedicure or book yourself into a massage. When was the last time you took the afternoon off to watch a feel-good video with snacks?
When did you last take time to work on your favorite hobby? Well? Isn’t the time off work a good opportunity to do something you enjoy? Being single means you can do whatever you want without worrying about someone else’s timetable.
Tip #8 – Don’t hook up on a one-night stand
Spoiling yourself does not include having a one- night stand. Much like overeating, it goes without saying that afterwards you’ll think about it and probably feel guilty for doing something you now regret.
Tip #9 – Don’t call your ex
As much as you might feel the need to call, it is highly likely you will either say something nasty or have something nasty said to you. So, if you feel the overwhelming need to contact your ex (even though I advise against it), send a card.
A simple card without any offensive graphics is essential. Do not write anything provocative. The message should be generic enough that it would not offend an acquaintance. Finally, do not hand deliver it!
Tip #10 – Surprise phone call
No, this is not a 2 AM phone call to your ex. This is a morning phone call to an old friend with whom you have lost contact. Do so in the mid-morning when are most likely to be home and your call is likely to brighten the rest of their day. This is my personal favorite tip.
If you have some more suggestion, email me and I will include them.