The buildup to the holiday season begins early, that’s for sure. And if you’re used to being part of a pair strolling arm-in-arm through a winter wonderland, facing this time of year as a single person can really throw a wrench in your ho-ho-ho. The days ahead may seem anything but merry and bright.
“Holidays are hard because most of us have been conditioned to think that the season belongs to families and friends,” explains Bishop Noel Jones, pastor of the 20,000-member City of Refuge faith community in Gardena, CA. “The key to the torment of holiday blues is the conditioning based on our cultural upbringing. This has forged our minds into believing that we need someone with us to make the holiday joyful.” Jones, who’s also the author of God’s Gonna Make You Laugh: Understanding God’s Timing for Your Life, continues: “This is endemic to our culture. It doesn’t matter whether you’re newly or ‘terminally’ single, the problem is being conditioned to believe it takes two to make holidays joyous.”
If you’re ready to begin reconditioning yourself for the single holiday season ahead, read on...
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Adjust your attitude
Hard as it may be to imagine life after a breakup, there is one... assuming you choose it. Mark Rogers, a Dallas-based counselor and relationship coach, says it’s crucial to have a life. “Life’s supposed to be juicy and joyful,” he counsels. “So embrace your personhood, not your partnership status. If you don’t like your life, if your passions are all pastel, if your color’s washed out, your adventures listless, your hobbies hobbled, and your courage for new activities and novel interactions has dried up and blown away, then you may be hoping a romance will start blood flowing inside a turnip,” he says. (It won’t.)
“It’s not singlehood that’s a liability, it’s stagnation,” adds Rogers. “Get the juices flowing in your life, and then your relationship status becomes an attribute, not an identity.”
Think about it: the fun, interesting people you want to date want to date someone fun and interesting, too. “Get serious about being emotionally mature and interactionally interesting,” Rogers concludes. “Offer potential partners light-heartedness, passionate engagement with life, and a willingness to learn the dance steps of intimacy. That combination is practically irresistible.”
Use your network
“If you’re suddenly solo, you probably envision a holiday season spent sitting at home, watching It’s A Wonderful Life for the 45th time (this year),” laughs marketing expert Jeanne Hurlbert, Ph.D., co-founder mysurveyexpert.com and former Louisiana State University faculty member of over 20 years. “But it doesn’t have to be that way. Focus on what you have — friends, family, colleagues — rather than what you lack. Enjoy those relationships fully. Choose to spend time with people who are fun and who will embrace your single status — not pity it — and will help you embrace it, too. Rekindle relationships with special people with whom you’ve lost touch. Renewing contact with old friends may provide a special holiday gift for both of you.”
Hurlbert also suggests hosting your own seasonal party to signal to yourself and your friends that you’re ready for a festive holiday. “Chances are, you’ll stimulate lots of invitations and activity,” she says. “And that will provide opportunities to expand your network.”
There are other ways to expand your social circle and fill that hole in your schedule. Join a new organization, or volunteer your time at a shelter or food bank. “Lots of organizations are looking for helping hands this time of year,” Hurlbert notes. “Providing that help will not only lift your mood, it will also introduce you to new people.”
Take care of yourself
While being a singleton can be a bummer, it does provide you with an opportunity to invest in your own well-being. “Taking time to unwind can decrease your stress levels and improve your health and relationships,” notes former Mental Health America President and CEO David Shern. “Try meditating, exercising, engaging in a hobby or talking with a friend. It’s your time, so spend it doing something you enjoy.”
This is important because mental health is integral to our overall health and wellness. “Negative psychological factors, such as stress and depression, can have serious effects on physical health,” he explains. “Stress, for instance, is closely linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. Learning habits that promote mental health therefore helps us protect and strengthen our overall health and well-being.”
And if you feel good, you’ll look good. That will help your attitude stay positive — and make you more attractive to potential suitors.
No one’s saying it’s easy being suddenly single during the holidays. Nor are we saying it’s easy to change your attitudes and conditioning. But it is possible, with a little effort. And starting now, before the holiday crush is upon you, will make it easier. Who knows? If you develop a happy and healthy attitude about the holidays, you might just find love under the mistletoe!
Freelance writer Margot Carmichael Lester also writes for Go magazine and The L.A. Business Journal.