As a single person, whether newly single, a single parent, or a longstanding single by choice, the holidays can be tough. The iconic image of the Norman Rockwell family Christmas—in which everyone is happy, stress free, and wearing freshly ironed clothes—can add to your stress during this season.
Think about it—who cooked all that food on the table you see in your mind’s eye? And who bought—let alone wrapped—all those presents? If you are single, chances are all this falls on you.
Holiday depression is a very real ailment that affects millions of people each year, whether single or in a relationship. One culprit is definitely the media. The bombardment of media images and messages of an unreasonable level of holiday “joy” (à la Rockwell) set you up for disappointment and a feeling that you have somehow failed if your holiday does not match the hype.
But maybe you are being way too hard on yourself, ever think of that?
As a single person or single parent the holidays may need a makeover in your fertile imagination. Erase the traditional stereotypes and repaint the picture you visualize in your mind so that everyone’s needs are met (especially your own) without sacrificing your peace of mind, sanity, and joy in the season.
‘Tis the season to be merry and spread good cheer, except when it feels like you are giving out of obligation and at the expense of your own merriness. Are you? If you are single, rather than thinking you’ll perish before reaching a bar set far too high, maybe think instead: the sky’s the limit! I can do whatever I want! Think outside the box. You can start new traditions for you and your children, if you have any, or for your single friends. You can go away for the holiday, potluck it, or invite friends to join you at a favorite restaurant on Christmas day. Although this holiday may be different than years past, creating new rituals that fulfill you is one way change old experiences.
The main thing is, how to avoid holiday burn-out and holiday depression. So give yourself a break. Literally. First things first – YOU. You will have a hard time focusing on all the tasks that loom if you do not focus on yourself first. Is this hard to pull off? You bet. We are programmed to think of ourselves last. But you are in very real danger of sinking into the holiday blues if you don’t put yourself on your own calendar, every day. Chances are, if you do, those tasks that loom may not seem so important after all.
This can take any form, and is for you to decide. What feeds you? Can you see yourself walking in the park or the woods, sitting in the sun with your morning coffee, or spending twenty minutes with a book? Or perhaps what will refuel you is prayer, meditation or yoga. Forget what you hear on TV, from the neighbors or over the PA system at the mall. Instead, access your own inner wisdom. Slow down, breathe, and find the calm, still center.
Don’t trust yourself to remember to do this, at least not until it becomes habitual. Put it in your iPhone, or on your desk calendar. Schedule fifteen minutes, thirty, maybe if you’re lucky, an hour, just for you, every single day.