Loneliness shows up for many reasons.
I remember the 15 years I raised my kids as a single mom….I had to share them on the holidays. As many of you also do.
During the Christmas season, I had them through 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve. Then, the three of them packed up their bags and went over to their dad’s house to wake up Christmas morning with their dad, step-mom and new little sisters.
Watching the door close behind them was deafening.
Now, as I prepare to share some of my coping mechanisms for loneliness, also keep in mind I didn’t have it all together. I had plenty of feel-sorry-for-myself moments.
I became very good at pulling up my boot straps and getting to work on my situation. I simply don’t like unhappiness. And, I’m a believer that we can manufacture happiness (even if it’s only mild happiness) into our days.
During many moments, I was looking for peace and contentment.
Over the past few days, I’ve had a number of conversations with women who are in the Women Who Spark Tribe on Facebook about this very topic. Oh, and if you haven’t joined us….please do!! Click Here!
Loneliness might be just plain being alone. Or it might be that a special person is missing. Or you may be surrounded by all of the people you care about….but the loneliness is still there, because the connection and sense of caring is missing.
All of these things are part of the human experience. They are unavoidable.
Know that you are not alone if you are feeling any of these moments of loneliness. Loneliness is so universal.
So, what can you do?
Five Ways to Cope With Loneliness During The Holidays
1. Accept that it is part of being human
I don’t mean for this to sound or feel trite. Loneliness is an epidemic. The women all around you are yearning for real connections in their life. With their spouse, children, friends, parents, siblings and others. Yet, day-after-day, we struggle to feel valued in the way that we yearn to feel valued. And, we also struggle when we have to share people with others…when we’d rather it was us they were spending their time with.
One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of your relationship with yourself. It’s possible to never feel lonely if you are enough for yourself.
2. Be happy for others
While I was without my children, I paused to feel happy about their happiness. Yes, I was home alone on Christmas morning, but they were at a place and with people they loved…and who brought them happiness.
While sharing my kids (anytime throughout the year, for that matter) was one of the most difficult realities of my divorce, I tried to remind myself consistently that their happiness was the most important thing. They have the benefit of being loved by many people.
And now today, in their adulthood, I am sharing them with their significant others and all of the homes they need to visit over the course of holidays. I can’t always have them. That’s just the way it is.
I can be happy, though, that their lives are joyful.
3. Seek out fellowship
More people are alone during the holidays than we realize.
Two things helped me tune into this unknown reality. Well, at least unknown to me.
The first thing that helped is that I started hanging out at Starbucks on Christmas morning, cozied up to the fireplace with a good novel and a cup of chai tea. I was amazed by the number of people hanging out at Starbucks, just like me, like it was a regular day. I was comforted by the camaraderie.
And secondly, I was more tuned into the plans people had for the holidays. I heard more and more people say, “Oh, we’re just hanging out at home on Christmas day.” Extended family Christmases are often on different days, and schedules simply don’t always align on Christmas Day.
These realizations led me to suggest getting together with friends to join forces and enjoy time together. Several years ago, my husband and I began hosting a “Christmas for The Misfits” on Christmas night. This evening gathering gives people who might otherwise be alone something to look forward to.
4. Watch movies
This seems to be a favorite among the many women I’ve talked to.
Who doesn’t want to get lost in a world of fantasy and happiness? Line up your favorite movies, and settle in for a day of relaxation. Oh, and yes, we can add relaxation to your list. Do not miss out on the benefit of being able to have a day of relaxation. Sometimes we’re so busy focusing on what we don’t have (the kids, the friends, the significant other) that we don’t focus on what we DO have….an opportunity to relax on the couch for a day.
5. Spoil Yourself
Movies are one idea, but certainly not the only one.
What else could you do if you were to schedule a day to pamper yourself?
- A long walk.
- A hot bath (for a long time).
- Cook your favorite meal.
- Read a good book.
- Do some journaling.
- Do some relaxing Yoga or stretching.
Plan your day. Jot down some things that will bring you happiness and contentment during a day alone.
Remember to focus on what you DO have and what you CAN enjoy.
Have a wonderful holiday season. You can do this. 😉
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