Watch any Christmas movie and the plot line is likely to end with a couple falling in love. Christmas comes a close second to Valentine’s Day when it comes to emphasising romantic love and being in a couple. There are plenty of people out there who are content with their solo status, but if you’re not one of them, the holiday season can be tough, leaving you feeling like you failed or are unlovable in some way. What doesn’t help is facing an avalanche of seasonal togetherness on TV, in cinemas, on Christmas cards, adverts, gift catalogues, and more.

If you find yourself feeling lonely this Christmas and New Year know that there are strategies to not only manage these emotions but also to cultivate a meaningful and fulfilling holiday experience. Here are five ideas to try:

  1. Recognise and acknowledge your feelings – Maybe you broke up with a partner this year and are feeling upset at the thought of your first Christmas and New Year without them, or this could be the anniversary of a loss that feels particularly painful and distressing. Or maybe you’ve never had a partner at this time of year and you feel like you’ve missed out on a wonderful experience. Whatever the reason for being single, take some time to reflect, understand and acknowledge your feelings.
  2. Celebrate other relationships – romantic love is only one kind of love. There is also love for parents or carers, siblings, nieces and nephews, children, and friends. These are often seen as a consolation prize for single people, but these relationships can be deeply meaningful and supportive. Reach out to and connect with people in your life who you value and who care for you, including via video link if you’re not able to see them in person.
  3. Start new traditions – Christmas and New Year are filled with rituals and traditions. Find a new tradition that works for you and is enjoyable, such as preparing a special meal, going for a winter walk somewhere, play your favourite Christmas tunes, treating yourself to a Christmas-themed coffee and cake, making a Christmas wreath or starting a new diary.
  4. Plan a post-holiday season treat – Having something to look forward to can help you get through, and hard times. Arrange a weekend away with a friend, buy a ticket for a show or gig, book a spa day, or just take some time off work to relax. This can also help when the January blues kick in, so make exciting plans for the future.
  5. Enjoy being solo – there are benefits to being single, despite what the Christmas movies tell you. Being single offers an opportunity to build on the relationship with yourself and invest in personal development on your terms. Draw up a list of benefits and add to the list as and when more ideas come to you. You can watch whatever you want on TV, decorate your home however you want, play all the cheesy songs you enjoy and dance around in your PJs. It is more than possible to have fun on your own, shift your focus and keep your spirits high.

Being single at this time of year needs a proactive and thoughtful approach. By accepting your feelings, making connections, investing in self-care and meaningful activities, you can still enjoy all the festive season has to offer. However, if the feelings of loneliness are overwhelming and you’re finding it extremely challenging to get through Christmas and New Year, find a professional to help you explore deeper reasons for your feelings and thoughts and make helpful changes to your life.

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