I’m just going to put it out there: the holidays can be tough for me. Christmas, in particular, is such a family-oriented time of year, and as a single woman with no children it’s easy to feel left out of a host of activities. Even watching commercials featuring the “perfect” family with their perfectly decorated house and perfectly coordinated wardrobe can trigger feelings of inadequacy and loneliness if I’m not careful, even when I know that those “perfect” families are fabricated by Hollywood and not anywhere near realistic.
I realize that we singles haven’t cornered the market on feeling lonely around the holidays. I have friends who are happily married with great children who still struggle at times with loneliness, especially those who don’t work outside the home. There’s probably not a one of us who, at one time or another, hasn’t struggled with feeling like Scrooge this time of year, so I decided to share a few strategies I’m taking this season to get me into the holiday spirit.
Releasing My Inner Social Butterfly
This is probably the area that I struggle with most. I consider myself an extroverted introvert, by which I mean that I enjoy spending time with others but after a while I need to be alone so I can regroup. I’ve found that, after spending all day in an office talking with my co-workers, when I come home at night I just want to be alone and not have to engage in conversation with anyone. While I definitely need that downtime, if I’m not careful I find myself taking on a very hermit-like existence when it comes to my social life. Spending some time alone can be refreshing, but spending all my down time alone can lead to feeling lonely in a hurry, so I’m trying to be more deliberate in making plans with friends throughout this time of year.
Last weekend I invited a dozen or so friends to join me for an outing to a nearby tea room. I expected four or five to be available, but much to my delight we ended up with ten of us spending the afternoon enjoying conversation over delicious tea and scones. We were a mix of married and single women of varying ages, some with children and some without, some who had never met and others who had known each other for years. It was an absolutely delightful afternoon full of fellowship that I think we’d all been craving, and it made me determined to plan more outings in the near future.
I’m blessed to have some co-workers who I’ve become very good friends with as well and we often get together outside of work. We’ve already made plans for a couple of gatherings over the holidays, which I am looking forward to very much. I’ve also made plans with a couple of my racing buddies to run together over the next couple of weeks. While I don’t want to overload my social calendar, I find that keeping myself active socially goes a long way toward combating those feelings of loneliness this time of year.
Savoring the Holiday Flavors and Scents
Sometimes it’s the little things that really put me in the mood for Christmas. Since I had to work the day before Thanksgiving, I decided to treat myself to a Starbucks on my way to the office. This time of year, I’m a big fan of their holiday specialty drinks, particularly their peppermint mocha, salted caramel mocha and holiday spice flat white (which was my drink of choice that day).
I’m also a big fan of diffusing essential oils in my home throughout the year, frequently changing out the scents depending on my mood. During the holidays I’ll often diffuse scents like peppermint, orange and a blend I love called (appropriately enough) Christmas Spirit, which includes cinnamon and cloves, among other yummy holiday scents.
Decking the Halls
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to decorate my home for Christmas this year. Putting up the Christmas tree can seem like such a bother when usually I’m the only one who sees it, and I really considered skipping going through the trouble. But yesterday I decided that decorating would make for a good distraction during the Iron Bowl so I ended up decking the halls after all.
Over the years I’ve accumulated so many ornaments that hold special meaning for me. Some were gifted to me by friends or family members, and others I acquired as souvenirs when I traveled to new places. This year I hung two new ornaments commemorating my first-time visits to Vermont and Maine. As I decorated the tree with all of my souvenir ornaments I was flooded with memories of the various places I’d visited. While I wasn’t terribly gung-ho about putting up my tree when I started, in the end I’m glad I did, and will enjoy looking it at for the next month.
These are just a few strategies I’m taking to make the holiday season more enjoyable and help guard against the lonely moments. Do you struggle with keeping a joyful holiday spirit? If so, what do you do to help make the holidays a happier time for you?