It can be hard to be alone during the holidays. Although conventions say the holidays are a time to focus on others, for some, it might be the time of year to take special care of yourself. You can embody the spirit of the holiday season with gratitude, connection, happiness, and generosity, by spending time focusing on what you have and what matters to you. Carol Marak, a solo-aging coach and expert, recommends connecting to and revitalizing yourself during the holiday season.
Thrive through the holidays with these eight tips:
- Set an intention: Describe the best outcome you want to have through the holidays. Would you say Calm? Happy? Fulfilled? Whatever word resonates with you, make that your intention from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Use it as a touchstone to ground you.
- Host your friends: Connect with people who are important to you, no matter how small that group may be. Take a page from the Millennial Generation and host Friendsgiving, a gift exchange, or a dance party using your favorite playlists. Even if you are not blood relatives, it does not mean you are not family.
- Connect virtually: For non-local friends and family, connect consistently throughout the holidays virtually on Zoom or over the phone. You can also consider joining an online support group, such as Elder Orphans, a Facebook group of solo agers.
- Foster your spirituality: If you are religious, attend services at your church, temple, synagogue, or mosque to connect with your broader community and religious traditions. Even if you are not particularly religious, places of worship welcome newcomers. If going to a place of worship is not for you, try other spiritual practices such as yoga or meditation.
- Pamper yourself: Create a “self-care healing day.” Embrace the Danish approach of Hygge: to be warm and comfy, to foster the feeling of happiness, to focus on simple pleasures, and to cultivate more of them in your life. Play your favorite music, prepare your favorite food, or light candles. Focus on what feeds your soul.
- Volunteer: Helping others also helps yourself and gives a sense of purpose. There’s no shortage of volunteer opportunities around the holidays. A 2020 American Journal of Preventive Medicine study showed that for people over 50, volunteering reduces the risk of mortality, improves physical functioning, and increases optimism.
- Go outside: Step up your regular exercise with additional long walks or hikes. Enjoy the holiday lights and decorations. Physical activity boosts mood and improves feelings of well-being.
- Practice Gratitude: In 2019, Gonzaga University researchers found that practicing gratitude enhanced health and well-being in older adults and reduced feelings of loneliness. Start a gratitude journal for the holidays: each day, write down at least three things for which you are grateful.
Here’s to enjoying a wonderful and personally fulfilling holiday season.
Throughout this “Going It Alone” section of this blog, we will share learnings from others navigating retirement alone, so that you don’t have to do it all alone.