If you have recently gone through a divorce or your spouse has died, you likely are feeling alone on the holidays. This can be true even when you have other people around you. Having children in the house, or family close by does not automatically erase these feelings. Likewise, having good friends is not a guarantee that you will feel fulfilled for the holidays.
You may be wondering:
- How to deal with being alone for the holidays?
- What are some holiday alone ideas?
- How can I beat the blues on the holidays?
I understand as I once had these feelings myself. Let’s tackle your questions and help you have a meaningful holiday in spite of feeling alone.
Why do people feel lonely on the holidays?
If you are feeling alone on the holidays as a newly divorced woman or widow, let me tell you a secret. Many married people feel lonely and they are not facing what you are going through.
“As a society, we’ve gotten used to the nostalgic images of holidays being full of family, food, travel, and quality time. If the picture changes or one of the aspects is missing, something feels off.” (1)
So what is this thing called loneliness, and where does it come from?
We were created with a need for God. Therefore, we will always have an empty place that even the best marriage, friendship, or family can not fill. These relationships help, but when some of them disappear, we are more keenly aware of feelings of emptiness, melancholy, and loneliness. Ironically, these feelings are not all bad. They are supposed to help us turn to God because we need Him.
Bible verses about feeling alone on the holidays
- “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” John 14:18 ESV
- “He heals the borkenhearrted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
- “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do no fear or be dismayed.”
- “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” Isaiah 43:2a
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort …” 2 Corinthians 1:3
- “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16
When we have been abandoned by a spouse, or our spouse dies, many women feel like orphans. Likewise, it can be so overwhelming that they feel like they are drowning. But God says that He will come to us and comfort us. He will walk with us through the hard things in life. The writer of many of the Psalms experienced loneliness and asked God to be close to Him. We can do the same. He will be with us when we are feeling alone on the holidays.
How do I deal with being alone on the holidays
Do you want to know how to beat the blues while others seem to be having the time of their lives? Before we cover specific activities, we need to talk about tips that are more about mindset, perspective, and physical health. These first steps will pave the way for coping with being alone for Christmas, or other holidays. They will make specific activities more effective.
- Start a gratitude list
- Look past yourself
- Eat more nutritious food
- Get physically active
- Show gratitude to those around you
- Acknowledge each new day as a gift from God
- Get more sunlight
- Keep your thoughts positive
- Stay connected
- Get enough sleep
- Smile and laugh as often as you can
- Take a social media break
Start a gratitude list
Just because we have lost someone or something does not mean we are devoid of blessings. If you still have friends, or family, or a job, or hundreds of other things, you have something to smile about. Just getting out of bed each morning is a gift from God. He has given us breath and a measure of health.
Look past yourself when feeling alone on the holidays
Probably one of the best ways to overcome feelings of being alone for the holidays is to do something for someone else. This could be volunteering, teaching a class, helping someone pack and move, giving gifts to strangers, babysit, to name a few activities. When we focus on others we suddenly are on our way to beating the blues.
Eat more nutritious food
There have been times when I wanted to binge on ice cream and chocolate. But what I have found is that while it all tastes good, I later regret my actions. It does not bring lasting satisfaction or relieve my sense of feeling alone on the holidays.
“Lowering your intake of high calorie, high sodium, and high sugar foods (a.k.a. junk food) will reduce your chances of experiencing depressive symptoms no matter what your age. ” (2)
Get physically active when feeling alone on the holidays
One of the worst things a person can do when feeling alone on the holidays is to sit around doing nothing. Physical activity improves circulation and oxygen levels. Muscle activity releases hormones that help us feel better and our negative emotions are less intense. This is a simple and free therapy for what ails us.
Show gratitude to those around you
So who are the people that you encounter in a 24 hour period? Or over a week’s time? Do you go through a checkout line in the grocery store? Tell the cashier “thank you.” What about the coffee shop? Tell the person making your coffee, “thank you for preparing my coffee.” Do you have a hard time finding things at the home improvement store? Tell the person who helps you, “I appreciate your help.” Not only will these words brighten your day, but they will also contribute to the other person’s sense of well-being. Who knows, they might be feeling just like you, alone on the holidays.
Acknowledge each new day as a gift from God
Each morning when we get out of bed it is a new opportunity to let our feelings come under God’s control. We may not have accomplished what we wanted yesterday, but we can try again today. More importantly, a new day gives us the chance to practice the things we are learning and the chance to share the love of Jesus with others. Even when we feel alone on the holidays, God has things for us to do. And we can be sure that what He has called us to do moment by moment, He will help us to accomplish.
Get more sunlight
Winter weather in the northern hemisphere is usually more gloomy than spring and summer. For this reason, some women suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is important for our mental well-being to get at least 10 minutes or more of sunlight on our faces each day. Sun lamps are sometimes used by those living in places where it is dark most of the winter months.
“Sun lamps or light boxes work by imitating sunlight. Doctors might recommend, for example, that people with SAD sit by a light box that provides 10,000 lux for 30 minutes a day as soon as possible after waking up.” (3)
Before using a sun lamp or lightbox, be aware that there are some disorders where you should not use these devices. These include bipolar disorder, sun sensitivity, diabetes, and certain eye conditions. Consult your physician before starting this protocol.
Keep your thoughts positive when feeling alone on the holidays
It is really easy to fall into the trap of thinking about the good old days and the things you miss. While those memories are good, constant reminiscence can fuel your loneliness into a raging fire. It is important to balance memories with what you can do to make your present situation better. Therefore, you have to take control of your thoughts.
Stay connected when feeling alone on the holidays
“Though your tendency may be to avoid people when you’re feeling down, often this can just add to feelings of isolation and depression.” (4)
Get enough sleep
Fatigue and lack of sleep magnify the sense of being alone. All negative feelings are worse when we are tired. Experts say that the average adult needs 7 or more hours of sleep a day. For these reasons, we need to make rest a priority.
Sometimes not being able to go to sleep is the result of too much screen time in the evening (TV, computer, phone). If you NEED to be on these devices until just before bedtime, try using blue-light-blocking glasses from about 7 pm on. Most optometry specialists have them and can fit them to go over regular glasses if you need them adjusted.
Smile and laugh as often as you can
As humans, we have an amazing mechanism connecting our facial muscles to our brains. As a result, smiling releases happy hormones into our bloodstream and makes us feel better. Even fake smiles accomplish this phenomenon. Smile and laugh therapy is even a thing in medicine. Therefore, don’t underestimate the power of this free booster of positive feelings.
This suggestion is based on the fact that most people only post the best parts of their lives. As a result, we don’t get to see the days when our “friends” on social media are feeling down or things don’t work out.
Constant social media can lead to depression in some people. There is always the temptation to think that everyone else’s lives are better than ours. Consequently, people with hundreds of social media friends are sometimes the loneliest people.
Holiday alone ideas and activities
So what kinds of activities might you undertake to overcome the blues? Try some of these for at home or outside the home.
Ideas and acitvities for at home
- Read an inspirational book
- Watch upbeat movies
- Invite someone to dinner or go out for dinner
- Connect with distant family or friends via Skype, Zoom, or otherprograms that allow you to see each other.
- Sing Christmas songs
- Take a bubble bath
- Start a new hobby or work on an old one
- Make homemade greeting cards
- Cook a new recipee
- Bake cookies and give them away if you don’t want to eat them all
- Clean your closets- donate what you don’t want but is still good
- Put together a photo album of past memories
- Write thank you letters to people who helped you or were a blessing to you in the past year
- Re-arrange your furniture
- Take an on-line course
- Snuggle under a weighted blanket (relieves stress)
- Make hot chocolate
- Put “yulelog” on the TV
- Decorate for the holidays – even when you are alone
- Listen to a new playlist
Ideas and activities for outside the home
- Wrap gifts for a freind’s children (busy moms do appreciate help with holidays)
- Enroll in an exercise class
- Read to kindergarteners
- Help a teacher in the classroom
- Shop for and give gifts to the less fortunate ( look up “angel tree locations” on google)
- Help your neighbor with something
- Be a secret Santa to someone in need
- Get a massage
- Induldge in a manicure or pedicure
- Go for a walk outside
- Visit the zoo
- Go window shopping
- Buy yourself flowers
- Join a support group if you are newly divorced or widowed (DivorceCare, or for widows, and online support for widows)
- Attend a sporting event
- Go Christmas caroling to a nursing home with a church group
- Try a new resturante in town
- Go to a concert
- Drive around town looking at Christmas lights
- Share with a friend any activities that you can
Final thoughts on feeling alone on the holidays
You may feel alone on the holidays, but you are not the only one in this situation. Feeling lonely is common. Fortunately, there are many ways to cope and beat the blues. If you have tried many of these suggestions, and are still having difficulty, you may need professional help. Medical and psychological conditions can fuel these feelings and make them hard for a person to control on their own.
God has given us amazing bodies and nature to help us out. We need to smile and laugh often, get physical exercise, eat nutritious foods, experience the outdoors with the sunshine and fresh air, and get enough sleep. Along with these free resources, God expects us to focus on others more than ourselves. When we do this, our feelings of aloneness diminish. And, when we do feel alone, we can thank God that He is waiting for us to go to Him for comfort. In turn, we will someday be able to give the same comfort to others. That is what He has done for me and countless others. He will do the same for you.
If you don’t know God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can talk, text, or chat with the folks at Chat About Jesus. Someone is waiting there to answer your questions.
You might also like to read:
- Why should I smile when I hurt inside?
- Are your thoughts holding you captive?
- How to be grateful when you don’t feel it
- Greatist. https://greatist.com/health/alone-for-the-holidays
- Psychology today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201004/ten-ways-beat-the-blues-any-age
- Medical new today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/sun-lamp
- Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/photogallery/natural-ways-to-beat-the-blues.aspx
- Open Bible. https://www.openbible.info/topics/loneliness