The holidays are classically known as a joyful time to unite with friends, family, and loved ones. The media portrays a consistent image that the holidays are a blissful time of reunion and generosity. This experience is most likely the ideal. Yet, thousands of people are coming out of a breakup or divorce each year during the holidays and learning to cope with feelings of loneliness for perhaps even the first time during this season. Others find themselves unable to travel to spend time with loved ones due to financial or work constraints. Below we’ll outline ways to proactively plan and celebrate a joyful, solo holiday season.
Rejoice in the Positive
If you left a relationship that was full of conflict, make the holidays a time to celebrate your newfound peace and freedom. Instead of dwelling on the quiet time, find gratitude in the fact that disagreements and bad feelings have been replaced with possibility. Take a moment during the holidays to honor this transition with a nice meal, meditation session, massage, or short getaway. Applaud yourself for walking through the fire of change and coming out on the other side as a stronger, more fearless and independent person.
Create new Traditions
Now that all is possible for your future, reflect on which traditions you’d like to embody along with this new stage of life. Take a few moments to really question what rituals help you feel most connected, alive, and fulfilled. Consider traditions that don’t require a partner or family member such as volunteering around the holidays or enjoying a spa day. And, at the same time, include traditions that gather people together – such as cooking Christmas Eve brunch for your closest friends or attending a charity yoga class during Hanukah with other mindful adults. Mark this important change in your relationship status by initiating memorable activities with the people most important to you.
Gift to Yourself
Do something for you. Replace the previous gift exchange with your former partner by treating yourself to a few nice items you’ve been eying. It’s often hard to gift to oneself but recognize that you are worth it and deserve some indulgence around the holidays. Consider buying gifts that are more classic vs. trendy so you’ll remember this time of transition for years to come – such as timeless jewelry, timepieces, or furniture accents. Gifts that will provide health benefits all year, such as a gym or yoga membership, cooking class, or investment in counseling, physical training, or nutrition counseling can go a long way in setting up your upcoming year well. Or, even gift yourself an experience such as a ski day at a new resort or lunch at an unique restaurant.
When all else fails, plan a getaway. Generally, it’s easier to get time away from work during the holidays and traveling can be a great distraction from feelings of loneliness that might accompany your first holiday alone. Consider joining an organized group traveling together for some built-in companionship such as a bike tour through Arizona, or an organized tour of stretches of sunny Mexico. Chances are that these groups are filled with people just like you who want to travel but are currently not doing so with a partner or friend/family member. Not only does travel enrich your perspective and foster gratitude, but it will be a great opportunity to connect with other like-minded people who could potentially be life-long friends. Worst case scenario? Hop in your car and explore a town within an hour of your home. Check out their mainstreet area, local restaurants, and any notable landmarks.
So often, our unhappiness in life is due to comparing our current situation with our past. Unhappiness can also stem from speculating about an unknown future. Practice focusing on the here and now when you feel down around the holidays. Recognize the many blessings of your life, allow yourself to fully sit with the feelings – the joy and the heartache – and recognize that this too shall pass. Connect with the fragility of life and bask in gratitude for the opportunity to change the course of life for the better.
Whether it’s due to a recent breakup or divorce, or you simply find yourself unable to spend the holidays with your family across the country, prepare yourself with some coping strategies as the holidays approach. Release expectations about how the holidays should feel and focus on the full potential and joy of the season with the opportunities now available to you. Happiness is ultimately a choice and free for you to choose during this important, reflective time of the year.
To learn more about attending therapy to help during life transitions, including divorce and break-ups, contact Center for Shared Insight to schedule a free consultation, or download our ebook to learn more about the role of fearlessness in dating, relationships, and beyond.