The holidays can be an incredibly painful time of year, especially if we are nursing wounds from a former marriage. The children may be heading to the ex’s. We may reflect over what we’d like to have in our relationships in contrast with our reality. Or, as we watch the happy and smiling faces of children and adults around us, we wonder why can’t I have that?
While suicide rates don’t actually climb during the period of Thanksgiving to New Year’s (that’s a myth!), it’s nonetheless a time of great sadness and stress for millions of people. So what’s a single girl to do? Here are 8 tips:
1. Get Out
Social isolation is not your friend. It’s imperative that you not stay home in your pajamas eating ice cream. Get up, get dressed, and head out of the house. Even going to a movie or meandering through a holiday light display is better than going it alone. If you have a friend to go with, even better. You need not spend any money at all.
2. Work Out
Getting exercise is terrific for everyone during any time of year. But if you’re feeling blue over the holidays, it’s even more important to stave off depression and sadness by working out. Go the gym, sign up for yoga (my favorite activity), or go for a walk if it’s not too cold outside. Whatever you do, get moving. If you have a treadmill at home, try to ignore it and get your workout somewhere with people (see tip #1 above).
3. Look Fabulous
Refrain from looking a mess. Even if you’re not feeling like it, force yourself to shower, do your hair, put on some makeup and get dressed in something fashionable before heading out. If you need a trip to the salon, go! Try changing up your hair color or trying a new style. Consider getting a mani and maybe a makeup refresher course at a department store. Anything to pick up your spirits is a great thing. Do it!
4. Help Others
One great recipe for combatting sadness is to do something for others. There are a million ways to brighten someone else’s day. Go to a retirement community and play board games with the residents. Knit hats and take them to a cancer hospital. Walk dogs at a local animal shelter. Or simply bake cookies or a dinner and drop them off to a neighbor who is sick or struggling.
5. Develop New Traditions
One thing I did when I divorced my husband was to come up with some new Christmas traditions for the kids and me. We decorate the tree together while playing Christmas music and ordering our favorite takeout. This year, it is Indian food (yum!). We went out and purchased some new tree ornaments. I started buying the girls a new pair of pajamas for a gift and they get to open it on Christmas Eve. A friend takes her children to a homeless shelter on Christmas Eve and they help serve dinner there. There are also some beautiful holiday light displays near where we live and over the course of the next month, we are making our way out to each one. Next weekend, we are going to the zoo at night, which has amazing lights (so I’ve heard).
6. Eat Healthy
So this one is a challenge, especially during the holiday season when chocolates and cookies are abundant. But as much as possible, make healthy food choices so you feel better in your own skin. While you’re trying to eat healthy, try eating something you haven’t tried before. For me, my friend, Jen, makes persimmon pudding every holiday. I have no idea what that is but I got the recipe and I’m going to make it. It looks delicious and why not? Last year, my daughters tried apricot baked brie for the first time. Surprise surprise, they loved it. Last week, I purchased a really great eggnog and they tried that for the first time, too. Yum. Be a culinary adventurous.
7. Go Outdoors & Have Fun
Getting fresh Vitamin D is a great mood booster. Weather permitting, go outside and do things. We have great ski resorts around me so the girls and I will be skiing a few days over the holiday break. Sledding is also something we love. I once went to Banff, Canada and we did a sleigh ride pulled by dogs. It was exhilarating. If you have snow, do something silly, like make a snowman or have a snowball fight with your kids (making sure no one gets injured, of course). Build a fire and roast marshmallows, or go ice skating at an outdoor rink. If you don’t have anyone to do this with, go solo.
8. Throw A Party
Invite your neighbors (even if you don’t know them) over for a Holiday party. It can be simple (a cookie exchange) or include a potluck dinner. Take this opportunity to mingle and meet new people. Gather up your girlfriends and go out to lunch. Do an inexpensive gift exchange (cap it at $10) is always fun. If you’re scratching your head over what you can buy for under $10, consider a Starbucks gift card, gloves, a scarf, or a fun throw pillow. I was at a gift exchange and one of the most sought after gifts was the enormous package of toilet paper. It was quite funny.
9. Embark On A Staycation
If you have the funds, consider going to a hotel for the evening and simply changing up your personal scenery. Go out to dinner somewhere new, go see some holiday lights nearby, shop, or take in a museum you’ve never been to.
10. Be Careful With The Alcohol
Be careful not to over-indulge in alcohol. It is, after all, a depressive. Sipping a glass of wine or champagne, or enjoying a cocktail or two is reasonable. But if you’re coping with sadness or depression, over-indulging is a really bad idea.
11. Get Help
If you need to seek professional help, do it! If you don’t know where to find a good therapist, contact your doctor.
12. Set Realistic Expectations
Growing up, the Holidays were a joyous time of year. They still are for my children but for me, it’s a time of a lot of work and expenses, extra pounds, and lost sleep. I simply have had to come to the realization that I may never get that feeling of my childhood back, and that’s ok. I have stopped trying to make it “perfect” and have tried to pair it back. I decorate less than I used to. Be forgiving of yourself and others.