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Life & Travel

A Brief Guide To Embracing Holiday Magic On Your Own Terms

One of the many changes that come with being an adult is watching the traditions you grew up with take on an entirely new form.

For as long as I could remember, my family made the most out of the holidays, and whether there were a lot of presents under the tree or few to come by, I always knew that I’d be surrounded by the love of my relatives.


As you get older, your environments change, you switch locations, and leave the nest that once brought your safety and comfort to create a home of your own. And while this change provides a sense of freedom that many of us long for, it’s hard to ignore the gaping void that was once filled with the laughter and chatter from parents and siblings, that is now your own personal space to fill.

This year will be my first Christmas alone in almost three years, and I have to say that it feels a lot more isolated than I remember.

While many people associate the holidays with festive gatherings, family traditions, and socializing, my recent thoughts around the holidays have shifted to what movies I can watch to pass the time, what restaurants are open for take-out orders, and how I can avoid the lurking sense of FOMO that comes with being miles away from my family. Depressing, I know. But it’s just the realities that come with living alone.

Spending the holidays alone can be brought on for a number of reasons. Whether you’re fresh off a breakup, have a difference in values from your family, recently lost a close loved one, have family drama, or, in my case, you could be living halfway across the country from your hometown.

While it can be difficult to navigate this change, feeling lonely, insular, or even un-cheerful during the holiday season is completely normal.

A lot of what we’ve come to know about gatherings and fellowshiping with loved ones has significantly shifted in the last three years, thanks to the pandemic, so adjusting to the change comes with a learning curve. Holiday depression is real, and the loneliness epidemic isn’t making it any easier. According to the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General’s “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,” the rate of loneliness among young adults has increased every year between 1976 and 2019. Thankfully, there are ways to thrive solo and embrace the holidays on your own terms.

1.Find alternative forms of connection.

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Lean on friends, mentors, or even your internet cousins during the holiday time.

Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Even though you aren’t with your immediate family, you can always lean on friends, mentors, or even your internet cousins for support during this time. If there’s one thing that our post-pandemic world has taught us, it’s that the way we form connections may look different, but our need for social interaction will remain a vital human need. FaceTime yourself into your family dinner or arrange a Zoom event with your long-distance friends; the effort will make all the difference.

2.Avoid comparison.

With holiday movies putting us in our feels and social media posts generating feelings of FOMO, it’s easy to get wrapped in what we see from others being better than our own personal lives. When that familiar sense of comparison rears its ugly head, remember that you can always unplug and get back to tending to things IRL.

3.Make time for gratitude.

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A little gratitude goes a long way.

Thought Catalog on Unsplash

It may seem like an oversimplification, but a little gratitude goes a long way. With the holidays being so close to the new year, it makes for the perfect time to reflect on your milestones and highlights from the year to redirect your holiday blues and aid in cultivating a perspective that fosters positivity and a grateful attitude toward life.

4.Give back.

The holiday season is the perfect time to give back with your time and service. If you find yourself feeling lonely during this season, get plugged into your local community groups, homeless shelters, and nonprofits to volunteer your time to those who need it. Not only does it deepen our sense of empathy, you’ll be bringing support and care to others in need.

5.Do nothing at all.

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There's no need to "perform" holiday cheer if you don't feel it.

Brandy Kennedy on Unsplash

If all you do is get through the holiday, that’s enough. If you feel like even keeping up the look of the holidays is too much for you, just take it in as another day. There’s no need to "perform" the holiday cheer if you don’t feel connected to it. Rest, unplug, check out, and tend to what your heart needs.

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Featured image by Jasmine Coro on Unsplash

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