Op-Ed: Being Single at the Holidays Doesn't Have to Suck
Being single and coping throughout the holidays can be a tough thing to do, especially if you're newly single. Having fallen back into that category I'm not going to deny there aren't times when I wish my ex was in the back of the plane in the movie Flight (heh heh heh), but that kind of thinking has to end at some point.
The holidays are stressful, and dreading the inevitable questions (You're single?... oh what happened?) can certainly make you want to skip every holiday gathering and hibernate for the next two months armed with unhealthy doses of alcohol and chocolate, all the while being tortured by endless Zales engagement ring commercials.
Friends are a great support system, but by now, they've heard our story of heartbreak a million times. Okay, maybe two million. It's time to hit the "Debbie Downer" mentality head on. We have a choice -- stay stuck in the past and go on and on about how women are evil (in other news, water is wet), or make the best of it. So, what can we do for ourselves to make this time of year a little easier on the heart? No doubt you've heard the following eight suggestions before, but I'm going to remind you anyway.
1. Get yourself moving. You know that gym you were going to check out but never did? Do it. Not only will exercise make you feel better, a lot of gyms/ health clubs offer specials this time of year, so take advantage of it. Walk, hike, do anything that gets those endorphins jumping. Endorphins make us happy. Yay!
2. That friend that you lost contact with over the years? Give them a call. Even if you can't get together right away because of conflicting schedules there's not much that passes the time better when you're feeling down than a good phone call with someone you like. Note: no calling if you've been drinking. It never works out no matter who you're talking to.
3. Volunteer your time. There are so many good organizations that need help -- hospitals, pet shelters, churches, veteran's and women's organizations, just to name a few. What's the worst that can happen? You'll meet benevolent people and feel really good about yourself. Self worth is the kryptonite for the holiday blues.
4. Even if you're not a sports fan, this time of year brings a lot of Sunday football parties, which is a great way to meet people. Who cares if you wouldn't die for The Green Bay Packers like I would. Pick a team, do a little research, and start cheering. Football parties are fun, and there's always someone around who doesn't mind explaining the game if you have questions.
5. ONLY if you're ready, think of getting a pet. This one is tricky because you really have to be there mentally for a new family member -- especially a puppy. Once you are, your time will be taken up immensely, and you'll have a little creature of love surrounding you day and night.
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6. Take up a hobby you never thought of before. Maybe duck-calling in the marshes of Louisiana isn't your thing, but try something new and make it a challenge. The benefit of this is that changing your everyday routine, and on your own schedule, can be a good thing. Whatever you're interested in, you can bet YouTube has a clip or two about it, so check it out and give it a shot.
7. Be good to yourself. Treat yourself to a massage, a new outfit, a different haircut -- something that's going to pick your spirits up. Word to the wise: I'd stay away from Callista Gingrich's hair stylist. Nothing worse than being down in the dumps and doing something that makes you end up looking like The Great Gazoo from the Flintstones.
8. Get into the habit of stopping negative thoughts that pass through your mind which then become verbalized. Stop saying, "I hate the holidays.” Chances are you wouldn't be saying that day in and day out if you weren't alone. The fact is you're single, by choice or not, and right now, it is what it is.
Bottom line is, you may feel alone, but you're not. There are people who are going through the exact same thing, so get out of bed, put a (believable) smile on your face and tell yourself that you're going to face the holidays as happy and as healthy as you possibly can, and DO IT. You got this.