Spending Christmas alone, whether by choice or otherwise, isn’t always easy because society considers the festive season as one to enjoy with family and friends. If you’re opting out of the festive expectations of gathering around the tree with loved ones, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Many people spend the day on their own. Even still, finding ways to relax and spend wholesome time with yourself is worthwhile.

There are all sorts of reasons as to why some are spending Christmas alone. A few of those reasons include work commitments, family disputes, finances, health, or the loss of a loved one. It takes some extra support to rediscover a new way to approach December 25th. Read on to learn what a therapist recommends for spending the Christmas period alone. 

Spending Christmas Alone

A solo Christmas may result in more time to indulge in how you prefer to celebrate. Setting the tone for the day often requires some thought, planning, and, sometimes, some friendly professional support. 

Shadeen Francis, LMFT, shares her thoughts on how adequate preparation is necessary when spending the holidays alone: “As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I understand the emotional complexities that can arise during the holiday season, especially when one is preparing to spend Christmas alone. It’s important to approach this time with self-compassion and a proactive mindset,” she explains. 

Francis shares that spending time alone doesn’t have to equate to loneliness. Instead, she believes that it could be an opportunity for “personal reflection, relaxation, and indulging in activities that bring deep joy.” In this sense, preparation for spending the festive season alone should incorporate the things that bring the most peace and pleasure. For Francis, the emphasis on planning is fundamental and should be personalized to your lifestyle. For instance, this could be an opportunity to create a full self-care day complete with long baths and your favorite scents, movie marathons, reading a book you’ve been waiting to get lost in, or making time for trying something new. 

Rely on A Support System 

There is nothing like a reliable support system to bring emotional warmth to the holiday. “We are social creatures wired for connection. While you may not always choose to spend the holidays with your family, feeling connected to people you love is still important. This is just one day out of the year. Although it can be an emotional time, a support network provides emotional backing, offers a sense of belonging, and can act as a sounding board when you need it,” explains Francis.

Your trusted network doesn’t necessarily need to be large. According to Francis, it can consist of close friends, select family members, or even relationships fostered through online communities. A huge factor to consider in choosing a support network is knowing who you enjoy talking with and who is going to be available. It may be worth having conversations ahead of Christmas to establish that bond and ensure you’ll have access to their time at some point during the day, if needed. 

Additionally, your support network could extend to therapy, counseling, or religious communities. “Engaging with your support network can provide comfort and distraction from feelings of solitude. The old adage applies here: it’s about quality, not quantity,” says Francis on maintaining bonds.

Use Healthy Coping Skills

It’s useful to be aware of how to manage intense loneliness during this time, in case the alone time triggers sadness. Francis advises that judgement-free acknowledgment of feelings is the first step: “Recognizing your emotions as valid is a form of self-compassion.” 

Discomfort may arise and when it does, coping mechanisms will be a gentle attempt at soothing the feeling of being disconnected. “Engaging in activities that promote mental and physical wellness can be incredibly beneficial. This might include exercise, dancing, meditation, journaling, or even seeking the support of a therapist if the feelings become overwhelming. Remember, it’s okay to seek help; it’s a courageous sign of strength, not weakness,” she adds. 

It’s all about treating the day as a chance to move at your own pace and do what makes you happy. Maybe it acts as a second birthday, or maybe a slow, sweet Sunday. Francis emphasizes the need for self-kindness and grace as you navigate the day. “Embracing your situation, finding joy in small things, and staying connected in whatever way you can are keys to a fulfilling holiday experience,” affirms Francis.