Home Alone this Christmas?

Each year people spend Christmas alone for a variety of reasons. But this year especially, more people will be spending Christmas by themselves. You may be living away from your family and unable to go home, perhaps due to travel restrictions or needing to self-isolate. You may not have a close relationship with your family or may have recently lost loved one’s that you would usually spend the festive period with.

Whatever the reason you might be alone this Christmas, you can still make it a special day, just for you.

You might really value the opportunity to be by yourself at this time, but if you don’t, then it’s important to take care of yourself and avoid spending the day focussing on feeling sad about being by yourself.

The great thing about spending time alone is you don’t have to fit in with what anyone else wants to do, you have a choice about what you want to do and how you want to spend your time. So, if you are going to be by yourself, then try to make it as enjoyable as it can be.

Here are some things you could do to make the most of your time alone:

  • Buy that book you’ve been meaning to read, cosy up under a blanket and immerse yourself in it
  • Pamper yourself light some candles, put on a face mask, have a soak in the bath or a take a hot shower, slather on the moisturiser and maybe paint your nails too. Whatever you fancy to make yourself feel totally pampered.   
  • Put on some fresh PJs – let’s face it, we’ve spent most of 2020 in PJs and loungewear! So if you’re not getting dressed today, then pop on a fresh pair of snuggly PJs to make you feel good.
  • Do something creative – whether it be drawing, painting or some mindful colouring, some Christmas themed crafting, baking some delicious treats, maybe even a bit of DIY if you fancy it.
  • Listen to your favourite music – maybe something to relax to, or have your own dance party to your favourite uplifting songs (it doesn’t have to be Christmas music if you’re fed up of it by then or not feeling particularly festive!)
  • Binge watch that series you’ve not had time to see yet
  • Wrap up warm and get outside for a walk
  • Cook yourself your favourite meal, or find a recipe you’d like to try. Just because you’re on your own doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go all out if you want to!
  • Take a nap and relax if you need to – don’t feel pressured to do lots if you don’t feel up to it. Put your feet up and take some time out.

But what if I get lonely?

If you’re going to be alone and you worry about feeling lonely, as well as indulging yourself you might want think about how to take care of yourself too:

  • Arrange to call/video call with friends or family -If you’re worried you’ll be interrupting their Christmas, don’t be. I can almost guarantee they will be pleased to speak with you.  Don’t assume everyone else is having a perfect Christmas, they probably need a break too. Consider it mutual support.
  • Volunteer – there are lots of charities out there that need support over Christmas – soup kitchens, befriending services etc. If you don’t want to spend the day at home alone, find a cause you’d like to support and get out into the community.
  • Meditate – Taking just 5-10 minutes to pause and refocus your mind could help you from the feelings you’re experiencing. If you’re new to meditation I recommend trying one of the guided meditations on the Headspace app.
  • Journal – Emotions are normal, and writing about what’s happening for you is very helpful. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start to write down what you’re feeling. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense or there’s no structure, just see where it takes you. Not only will this help to clear your mind and let things go, it will help you to make sense of what you’re feeling and why.
  • Make a comfort box to open on Christmas Eve/Day as a present to yourself. You can include anything that makes you feel good: a fluffy warm blanket, photos, a hot water bottle, colouring book and pencils, aromatherapy oils, candles, chocolate…  
  • Focus on things to make you feel good – watch a funny film, listen to uplifting music, watch a load of funny videos on TikTok.
  • Have a good cry – sometimes we need to just let it out, and crying can be cathartic. Put on a sad film or some music that will help release some of your emotions and cry it out. You will feel better afterwards.
  • If everything just feels a bit much – then make sure you do the basics – eat, drink, try to get some daylight (whether that be getting outside for 10 minutes or just opening the curtains!), and give yourself permission to rest.

If you are worried about how you might cope, have a think about the helpline support that is available if things start to feel really tough. Here are some helplines that you could consider calling that will be open over the Christmas period:

  • Samaritans. Listening service, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123 (free from any phone) for immediate support or email jo@samaritans.org if this feels easier.
  • SANEline. Free helpline available 4.30pm-10.30pm every day for those with/supporting people with mental health problems. Call 0300 304 7000.
  • Papyrus HOPELINEUK. For those under 35 who are struggling with suicidal feelings, or concerned about a young person who might be struggling. Call 0800 068 4141 on weekdays 10am-10pm, weekends 2pm-10pm and bank holidays 2pm–10pm, text 07786 209 697 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). If you identify as male, call 0800 58 58 58, 5pm–midnight every day. They also have a webchat service.
  • Switchboard. If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630 for immediate support. Open 10am–10pm every day . Or you can email chris@switchboard.lgbt or use their webchat service. Phone operators all identify as LGBT+.

(Source: Mind.org)

Remember, the way your Christmas alone goes will depend on how you think about it: thinking you’ll have a bad day will almost certainly guarantee you will have one! Take some time to think about the things you are grateful for – maybe being in your own home, your nice cosy bed, the food you are eating that day. An appreciation for these things can help change our perspective from negative and hopeless, to more positive and content.

Above all, it’s important to be gentle with yourself and meet yourself where you’re at, it’s ok to feel sad about being alone, but wallowing in it will make you feel worse. So, whatever you can manage, whether it’s basic self-care, or having a wildly indulgent day, remember above all to be kind to yourself.

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