For those older and living alone, the holidays can be lonely, sad, and depressing. For those who have lost someone important in their life—either through death or the break up of a relationship—the holidays can bring up memories of happy days followed by thoughts of sadness that those days are gone.
It doesn’t have to be that way. I’m going on my third year of being alone at the holidays and I’ve finally turned it around. I’d like to offer you some tips on how I learned to be alone but not lonely.
1. First of all, I am finally able to distinguish between alone and lonely. They are not the same and do not always go together. I’ve learned to appreciate my alone time as a treasure knowing that I have arranged to be with people at future dates.
2. Recognize the holiday hype for what it is. Just because the advertising shows only Hallmark moments doesn’t mean life is like that. People die and relationships end all the time including December. Toast to the memories and get on with making new ones. Don’t do the same activities you used to do with your partner/kids/spouse and end up wallowing in sorrow at their absence. Instead, I recommend changing your expectations. Expect that you’ll be alone and cherish the peace and quiet. Last year I sat in front of the fireplace and read a novel. It was marvelous. This year, I plan on writing. What will you do that is different this year?
3. I know there are people lonelier than I’ll ever be, especially older people. So reach out to someone who needs you. Pick up the phone or walk down the hallway. Say hello to a new neighbor or volunteer at a local senior center. Make random phone calls and when a stranger answers the phone, say “Happy Holidays.” (It’s fun!) Remember the best way to get a hug is to give one.
4. Make a plan so you’re not sitting alone hosting your own pity party. Schedule at least one event per day even if it’s the weekly food shopping. Get outside and get some air and exercise as part of that schedule.
5. Do something you like to do and do it guilt-free. Eat chocolate, take a lavender bath, cook a new recipe, go to a movie where you won’t need to find two seats together, and eat more chocolate. Experience joy knowing it’s okay that you aren’t part of the shopping madness, that you don’t have in-laws to argue with at dinner, and yes you can eat the whole pie by yourself.
The holiday insanity will soon be behind us and we’ll all be back to our normal crazy lives. Take this time to be kind to yourself. You can be alone and not lonely.
With much love,