People can be alone at Christmas for all sorts of reasons. Family may have died or moved away, a partner may be working, people may have fallen out, or be separated from family etc. For me, this year it is because I have a virus, and I have told the rest of the family to carry on and have a good Christmas, regardless. This is not my first Christmas alone. I was away in the military, my other half works lots of Christmases, I spent Christmas Day alone as the children moved away and acquired new families, or I worked myself.
It is easy to dread Christmas when you know that you are going to be alone. Social media and television are full of happy families, and everyone seems to be making plans to spend time together, whilst you sit in your chair, the Christmas tree lit, probably missing someone special, and finding it hard to find Christmas cheer. It can be a really lonely day and is easy to start feeling depressed. However you are not alone. There are so many out there that are in the same boat as you. If I know that I am going to be alone at Christmas I put some strategies in place so that I do not go down the route of eating myself silly, and feeling sorry for myself. They help relieves some of the loneliness.
- Go for a walk in nature. This is so good for our mental health and can help shift our mood. I wrap up warm like on a Christmas card. Nature helps us feel more relaxed and calmer, and if you are mindful of things around you, it can distract you from your dark thoughts. Often I have met other people in the same boat, and just saying “Merry Christmas” to someone, and getting a smile and a reply, can lighten the mood mood. Fresh air also clears my brain and makes me feel better.
- Spoil Myself and do some self care. Celebrate Christmas any way. If you can afford it, buy yourself a nice present that you wouldn’t normally allow yourself. Have some nice food and maybe a tipple. Pamper yourself and see this as a relaxing break from the usual noise of the world. Use the time to review and reflect on your life and plan intentions for your new year. I have done vision boards, done some journaling, bought my favourite sweets and had a glass of my bramble vodka.
- Connect with people virtually. This may be family or friends, or even a Facebook group. I know this is not the same as being surrounded by loved ones, but interacting with other people can help someone not feel as alone. Nowadays we have Whatsapp and Facetime and so you can have virtual parties, eat your meal together over the internet, and have real time conversations. Family zoom calls really helped during periods of lockdowns.
- Volunteer to help a charity or someone locally. In the past I have volunteered for a food kitchen or have visited old people that I know are on their own and might want a present of a bit of home baked food. By celebrating in this way it brought out my Christmas spirit and I actually found myself enjoying myself.
- Volunteer to work. If you work in an industry that is 24/7 and you know you will be alone on Christmas Day, offer to swop with someone that would rather be home with their family. I did this a lot once my children left home. If you are lucky you might even get double pay with it being a bank holiday. Those with young children will be very grateful too and it will keep you busy.
- Distract myself. I am doing that now by writing this on Christmas day. It is keeping me occupied so that my mind can not drift to thinking about missing out on the family time on this special day. Do something that you enjoy and might not have had time to do before, and will keep you busy. You could do some crafting, a jigsaw, get lost in a book, try a new recipe, watch a movie, or research your next holiday.
- Hug a pet. You maybe fortunate enough to have a pet. I don’t, but I can see from friends that live alone with a pet that they appreciate your love and affection and give it back. A dog may even drag you out for a walk. Curl up with your pet and feel yourself calming as you stroke and chatter to them.
Of course you can still feel lonely when you are not alone, and being alone is better than being with the wrong person or around people that do not understand you. There is nothing worse than some one saying “Cheer up. It’s Christmas,” whilst you are stressed out making the meal and organising everything and they have just put their Christmas jumper on and started drinking!
If you do feel overwhelmed with loneliness on Christmas day there are places that are open that you can turn to for help. Here are some numbers in the UK
The Silver Line – a help line for older people 0800 470 80 90 (24 hrs)
Samaritans if you need some one to talk to 116 123 (24 hrs)
Shout – a 24 hour text service that is free if you can not cope with talking to some one – Text SHOUT to 85258
Take care and I hope that you can find some joy if you are alone or lonely on Christmas day.