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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Advice with the Arts Editor: Spending the holidays alone

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Bianca Oppedisano
A woman wraps holiday presents. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

The holiday season—no matter which holiday you celebrate—is a time for coming together as a community to bond over shared love and treasured memories. For most, it’s a joyous time full of love and celebration, but it can also be a time of sadness.

If you happen to find yourself alone this holiday season, some difficult feelings may arise, especially when everyone else seems to be surrounded by loved ones. But trust me on this, you are not alone.

The American Psychological Association says that 38 percent of people reported increased stress during this time, which leads to increased depression, anxiety and substance abuse. In addition to this, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that 68 percent of people with mental illnesses see their condition worsen during the holiday season (1).

However, as someone managing this time, you are more than just a part of some statistic. Accepting your situation is the first step in navigating this time alone. Don’t compare yourself to those who are surrounded by large groups of people, whether it be family or friends.

Constantly refreshing Instagram to see what everyone else is doing isn’t going to make you feel any better. The best way to navigate a holiday alone is to disconnect from who you follow on social media and connect with yourself.

Try connecting with friends, even through text or giving them a call. They might not be able to help your situation, but talking to a friend can ease some of the pain. They might be able to provide a place for you to go, or they could connect you with others who are also spending the holidays alone.

You can also create your own traditions. Maybe bake something that reminds you of your grandmother and share the treats with your neighbors. You could create gift baskets for those in need or watch a cheesy holiday movie. Any of these things can bring temporary comfort, even if they don’t necessarily solve any problems.

Self-care is another way to self-soothe, whether it be an extravagant bath routine or cooking a nice meal for yourself. Try to plan out your holiday ahead of time if you know you’re going to spend it alone. Sticking to a schedule can be beneficial so you have something to look forward to throughout the day.

Being around people helps combat loneliness. Volunteering is super popular around the holidays for a reason. Spending the day at a women’s shelter, a children’s hospital or a food bank can both spread holiday cheer and bring you closer to other people. It’s a good way to socialize and build connections.

If you are unable to spend the holidays with loved ones, find ways to honor them during this time. If you can, write them a letter or give them a call. Participate in activities that they love to make yourself feel closer to them. Put together a gift and send it to them in the mail. If you can’t connect with them for whatever reason, honor them in your thoughts and your actions.

If you find yourself feeling sad because you’re alone, feel the sadness as it comes, but try not to lose yourself in it. You can do this through journaling, speaking to a therapist or, in my favorite way, curating a playlist that fits your exact situation and just letting it out.

Find gratitude in the small things, like your morning coffee, the dog you always see on your way to work or the call you get every Thursday from your best friend. This season is hard, but you will get through it.

Sources:

https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/mcleans-guide-managing-mental-health-around-holidays

About the Contributors
Rena Weafer, Arts Editor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator