Being newly single can be quite challenging during the holiday season. You feel bombarded with images of budding romance and happy families. You realize that the traditions you had participated in will change. Overall, your expectation is that you will be lonely, restless, and maybe even depressed. As challenging as it may seem, consider this as an opportunity to learn how to be single again….and perhaps, even to embrace it.
Here are 11 things you can do to make the holiday season brighter.
Play It Forward: remind yourself that how you are feeling during this season is NOT how you will be feeling for the rest of your life. We all go through cycles and changes in life. This may be a low point for you, but there will be an upswing.
Do A Reality Check: don’t assume that everyone else is doing better than you. You never know what an individual or family might be struggling with. And, the idea of a happy traditional family setting might be more of a marketing tool than reality.
Seek Wisdom: talk to people who have gone through the holidays as a single person. Ask for their advice on how to cope. You will ﬁnd comfort and support in their responses.
Create New Traditions: ﬁnd new ways to celebrate the holidays. If you always had turkey for a holiday meal, try something different. Attend a different holiday religious service. There are many creative ways to start new traditions.
Learn To Say “No”: if you receive an invitation and you’re just not ready to go out socially, or the situation might make you uncomfortable, it is okay to say “thanks for the invite. I’m going to take some time out for now”. It is also okay to accept invitations, attend the event, and leave early. In other words, give yourself permission to set limits.
Go Public: if, on the other hand, you are someone who enjoys chatting and connecting (most women do), then accept invitations and approach each one as an opportunity to feed your need for connection. Research has found that one way to treat depression is to put yourself in a public setting in order to be around people and enhance your mood.
Practice Altruism: it is a proven fact that acts of kindness improve our mood. In addition, exposure to the hardship of others gives us a meaningful perspective on our own problems. The holidays are a perfect time to get out and volunteer or organize donations for those in need.
Reclaim An Interest: is there something you neglected or gave up entirely while you were in your previous relationship? Now if a great time to reclaim it. Set aside time and space dedicated to doing something you enjoy, especially if it is creative or offers the opportunity to meet new people.
Try Something New: there’s probably something you’ve been wanting to “try” but have held back. Use this season to “just do it”. Not only are you likely to enjoy yourself, but imagine how good it will feel to have stepped outside of your comfort zone. You’re likely to feel proud and conﬁdent which will add to the sense of reclaiming your life.
Declare A “Me Day”: be a little selﬁsh and spend a day focused on yourself, whether you stay home in PJ’s watching TV reruns or movies, or go out for a nice meal, get a massage; whatever makes YOU feel good.
Follow the Sun: exposure to natural light is known to be a mood enhancer. If you don’t have the resources to travel someplace warm and sunny, try a full-spectrum light. If you can’t get natural light, use environmental cues to enhance your 5 senses: look at sunny climate images, rub suntan lotion on yourself, play uplifting music, burn a candle, eat some strawberries.
Take this list and track your use of it. Having a plan that offers choices gives you a sense of taking control of your life. Tracking your behavior and emotions gives you accurate feedback about your successful transition from “we” to “me”.
For anyone who is struggling….you do not need to be alone. Reach out to a support group and/or seek counseling.
Kerri Schroder, PhD is a licensed psychologist who finds passion in helping people through life transitions.