Are you not looking forward to the upcoming holiday season because you are single? Unfortunately, many people who are not in a romantic relationship experience stress, sadness, depression, and loneliness during the holidays. And not for nothing. Our holiday culture certainly perpetuates the idea that the holidays are better when you are in a romantic relationship. We are bombarded with images related to buying that perfect gift for your special someone or sharing a cuddly night by the fire with your loved one. And who else will you kiss on New Year’s Eve, right? Of course, these notions are far too limiting for many of us who are not currently in a relationship, and they leave people feeling inadequate and lonely.

If you are not in a romantic relationship this time of year, you do not have to succumb to the idea that you cannot or will not enjoy yourself. Here are some tips, ideas, and suggestions for helping you enjoy and embrace being single during the holidays.

  1. Stay connected. Even though you may be feeling alone, you do not have to actually be alone. Call your friends, a relative you have lost touch with, or a few coworkers and set up some plans to get together, especially on those important dates (Christmas Day, New Years Eve, etc.) that might be particularly emotionally difficult for you.
  2. Do something nice (and unexpected!) for yourself. Treat yourself to a massage, a personal training session, or shoe shopping. Start a class you have always wanted to take. Surprise yourself with something fun. Think of ways you can use your time on yourself so that this season is associated with positivity for you.
  3. Do something nice for someone else. Volunteer your time and energy toward making someone else’s holidays special.
  4. Throw your own party. Fill your home with the people, food, and things you love by hosting a party or get together. Being single during the holidays does not mean that you cannot host a beautiful dinner party or open your home to family and friends.
  5. Tune it out. The media – everything from commercials, songs, billboards, and television shows – can make it seem like the holidays are really only special when you have a romantic partner to share it with. Challenge this stereotype and tune out those limiting messages. Change the channel when you see something that promotes this notion. Being single is not worse, it is just different.
  6. Create new traditions. You get to decide what rituals and traditions you want to create, so take this opportunity to start something you really enjoy. Perhaps you have your best friend over to drink cocoa and decorate cookies or you visit your favorite aunt to help her wrap presents. The best part is that you can decide what you want to do.
  7. Think of the positives. In some ways, being single affords you some opportunities that you might not otherwise have if you were in a relationship. You are able to be more flexible with your time and choose what you would like to do. You might be able to visit family or take a trip that you perhaps would not be able to if you were juggling schedules with someone else. It can be helpful to focus your attention on what you do have, rather than what you do not.
  8. Prepare what to say. When faced with questions from people, whether from your family, friends, or coworkers, about where your spouse/partner/significant other is, have a response prepared. Make it short (think a few sentences), to the point, and then find a way to move to a different topic. It can be as simple as saying, “I’m here by myself. It’s just me today.” Smile and move on.
  9. Have good boundaries. We all know that there are people in our lives who want to overstep boundaries and pry into our personal lives (even when you have prepared what to say to them, per #8). There are plenty of opportunities for you to interact with these people during the holidays, so give yourself permission to get out of these kinds of situations. You can say, “Thanks so much for your concern, but I would really rather not talk about my personal life right now. Let’s just enjoy the party.” It is okay to say no, get some space, or ask to end a prying conversation.
  10. Remember the big picture. This is a good strategy for many scenarios, not just dealing with loneliness during the holidays. Put this current situation in the broader context of your whole life. This is really just a few weeks out of the year, and you are still the same person you always were. Remember that feelings come and go, and whatever you are experiencing right now will pass in time.