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Avoid The Holiday Love Blues


Do you feel as if you’re the only single person out there amid all the couples? Then heed this wise advice.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

his time of year can be tough on anyone who’s single, but those who were married and now are not—for them it can be especially hard. “Newly single daters feel down around the holidays because everything about the holidays centers on the traditional view of family togetherness,” says Leah Klungness, a psychologist from Long Island, NY, and co-author of The Complete Single Mother. “The media images of happy families gathered about the Christmas tree, parents lovingly laying out toys from Santa, couples embracing in a romantic setting—all create the impression that everyone else belongs to a loving family and is half of a loving and committed couple,” she says. That makes it easy for you to feel like you’re the biggest exception to that on the whole planet.

But you don’t have to be low during the holidays. We've come up with 10 tips for beating
Only do what you truly enjoy—not what you feel you ought to do.
those blues — or at least keeping them from beating you — so you can socialize and enjoy the holidays without a spouse.

Make some changes
“A big life change, like suddenly finding yourself single, allows you to redefine the holidays more to your personal liking rather than constantly needing to respond to the demands of others,” Klungness notes. “If you hate to bake, then why do it? Are you flooded with paperwork at your job? This might explain why you describe holiday cards as ‘another big job I need to get out of the way.’” This year, don’t do anything just because you think you should. Instead, do what you truly enjoy.

Mix and jingle
“After I left my husband, I wasn’t looking forward to the holidays,” recalls Nancy Prefontaine of Scottsdale, AZ. “But another newly-single friend and I hosted a holiday mixer for all our single friends. It was fun—and there was no feeling sorry for ourselves because no couples were allowed. By the end, we were all in the holiday spirit”

Practice gratitude
“Make a gratitude list of all the great things that are in your life right now,” notes Diana Kirschner, psychologist and love coach in the Love in 90 Days Boot Camp TV show. “Make a pay-back visit where you go to someone who helped you a lot and give them a thank-you gift. Research shows that these steps help create happiness.”

Focus on family
“My wife had the kids last Christmas, so I went home to my parents and spent the week catching up with old friends and family who also were home for the holidays,” says
Helping others will make you feel better about yourself.
Thom Englund of Boston. “It was nice to be able to focus on people I don’t get to see much and re-establish relationships.”

Do good
Volunteer during the holidays at places such as a nursing home, soup kitchen or animal shelter. “It’s a great way to counterbalance any blue feelings you may have,” says Steve Kemble, star of the Style Network’s Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? and ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Wedding Edition. “Additionally, helping others is always a wonderful way to make you feel better about yourself, while at the same time making others feel better about themselves. There is no better feeling than brightening someone else's life.”

Get away
“After my husband died, I just couldn’t face our home during the holidays,” says Suze Hernandez of Fresno. “So I decided to give myself the gift of travel. I spent Christmas and New Years in Hawaii and the escape was just what I needed to start the next year full of hope instead of despair.”

Exercise
“It’s important to get sufficient exercise,” says Judy Bolton, therapist and co-author of When Did You Know... He Was Not The One? “It has been scientifically documented that exercise stimulates the endorphins which send a calming effect throughout our bodies.” Plus, you might meet someone cute and available at the gym.

Unclutter
“My wife died around the holidays and I spent that time going through her things—and mine,” explains Carl Means of Knoxville. “Now I use the end of the year to clean out my closets and cabinets. I get a feeling of accomplishment and clarity.”

Think positive
“For my friends who insist that staying home will make them feel better, I always recommend that they write down 25 positive things about themselves,” Kemble says. “Trust me, you will end up feeling so much better about yourself.”

Indulge
“Over Christmas vacation, I take advantage of all the guilty pleasures my ex despised,” admits Sarah Dukes of Chicago. “I catch up on soaps, check in on the Real World marathon, and whip out my K-Tel 70s music compendium. It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when you’re doing something this ridiculous.”

Following this advice will help you keep the holiday blues at bay so you can head into the new year with a positive outlook—and ready to find love.


Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer whose work also appears in Go magazine and the Los Angeles Business Journal.
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