It is totally possible to not only cope with the holidays but enjoy them when you’re on your own
Take it from me, who has a multitude of experience on this subject, that you can be OK on the holidays no matter what your status is with your family. See, I know a lot about how to cope with the holidays when you’re not on good terms with your family because I did it for years. It’s not always easy or enjoyable but there is peace to be found. The trick is not to run away from the discomfort or black it out with substances or other destructive behavior. Unfortunately, you have to go through it to get through it, but it’s so worth it when you learn how to manage life no matter what. You will feel like a champion when you can manage your emotions in a healthy way. Let’s get into it.
Acceptance is the answer to our problems today
Number one is coming to terms with the fact that it is natural and normal to feel sad and alone when you are not with family on the holidays. Society, media, and TV, can all tell us there’s something wrong if we’re not in a conventional family model. We see happy families in movies and advertisements and it drills home that something must have gone terribly wrong if you’re alone on the holidays. If you happen to have low self-esteem, that will add to pain and heartache. You might feel you deserve this or that things will never be OK. Stop that right there. You don’t know what’s going to happen down the line so don’t make up stories. Whatever the reason you are estranged from your family, it probably needed to happen. You pushed someone too far and they need space or they’ve caused too much destruction in your life and you need to stay safe. That’s your reality. Accept it for right now and take care of yourself.
Make plans or have a plan
Once, I invited a half dozen friends from an AA meeting over for Thanksgiving because none of us had places to go. That was actually quite fun and festive. No one fights, and you get to eat what you want. I think we may have even watched reality TV. Bliss, I tell you. Make plans with friends, sober people, marathon meetings, whatever. There are plenty of recovery spaces available throughout the holidays and many people are in the same situation as you. Find them and commiserate. If you hate people and people-y things then make self-care plans. Exercise, massage, Netflix time, pet care, cooking, creative pursuits, reading a good book, just do the things that make you feel happy. This is the best way to cope with the holidays in my mind – spending it nurturing yourself and your spirit.
Connect, Call, Zoom
Who can you call when you feel lonely? Prepare and think about who might be a safe person to connect with over the holidays. Whether it’s a coffee, a call, or seeing a movie, make sure to connect with other humans. If you don’t like in-person, check out Zoom meetings. Since becoming a Buddhist and joining Rotary, I’ve learned there is so much you can do to connect with other people in meaningful ways that don’t even require small talk. I’m in book clubs, women’s groups, and more. These groups keep a lot of people connected who might otherwise be alone. They also create bonds around things you can feel good about and shared interests.
I volunteer and do community service all the time through my Rotary club and nothing else brings me such joy. We collect school supplies for kids in need, we help kids in foster care, we do food drives, and lots more. How many times have you thought I wish I could do something but have not known what to do? There are groups to help with that! There are so many people in need right now. If you are not hungry and homeless you might want to help the people who are. Even The Salvation Army needs volunteers for the Red Kettle Program. Reach out and help. You’ll like yourself for it.
New traditions baby
Maybe having holidays fight-free and with food of your own choice is a real treat! Make some traditions that fit with your life. Make a meal for yourself and your pets. Watch scary movies. Whatever floats your boat. Personally, I love going to the movies alone. Make these long days something to look forward to with activities or special activities that make you happy.
Gratitude and spirituality
It could be worse. We could be in Ukraine. Be thankful for what and whom you do have. Be thankful for animals and weekends and coffee and whatever else makes your life livable. Learning how to cope with the holidays alone gets easier if you can get spiritual about it. See what’s happening from a bigger perspective and find compassion for yourself and others. If you’re not religious, try starting with guided meditations and see if that does anything for you.
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