Spending the Holidays Alone and at Peace
The Holidays: An Intense Time for Most of Us
Spending the winter holidays—whether that means Christmas and New Years other traditional winter celebrations—alone can feel utterly sad, lonely, and bleak. This condition is made worse by contrasting one’s solitary position to imagined bliss in a lover’s arms, warmth in a family gathering with gifts and food, or shared faith in spiritual celebrations. However, there are ways to sustain joy and peace if one must remain alone during the holidays. It comes down to loving one’s self.
Of course, many do not celebrate “the holidays,” and see these last weeks of the year as just another series of days on the calendar. Humans are diverse in our views, both individually and culturally. However, for those who attribute meaning to these times, and wish to make them special, being alone can make one lose heart and question one’s faith.
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Strengthening One’s Faith and Caring for One’s Self
It is not bad to question one’s faith. By digging more deeply, one can open to greater understanding and commitment to the force of life and love, to whatever higher power one holds dear. Spending the winter holidays alone is a great opportunity to engage in solitary exercises, both physical and spiritual. One can challenge a cleansing fast, a new and healthy nutritional practice, a writing project, or another artistic task that takes concentration and solitude. One can practice yoga, work out, or take a long walk or bike ride every day. Getting a stack of fabulous books and losing myself in the pleasure of reading is one of my favorite ways to spend personal time.
Loving one’s self includes caring for one’s body and spirit. Cleaning one’s body, possessions, and home are very positive ways to raise the spirit when alone, and leave one pleasurably tired yet in a better environment. Think about taking that long bath with essential oils, or applying a natural moisturizing mask to the face or an oil pack to the hair and scalp. Cleaning out one’s closets, organizing one’s possessions, and setting aside unneeded ones for donation or resale can be tackled during this time. Those with homes might want to clean the basement, attic, or garage.
Make sure to eat well, but pay attention to what you are eating. Often we eat to comfort ourselves or to obscure feeling, eating sugary, fatty treats or too much alcohol. Take the step to think about your diet and choose to nourish yourself with fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, natural meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, plenty of fresh water, herb and green tea, and perhaps a bit of good coffee, wine, and beer.
Staying sober and healthy during time alone is a central challenge. For those who are battling to regain sobriety and keep it, there is nothing more important than staying with your higher power and your support group. The sadness and lack of love, including self-love, which can overwhelm the human heart and soul must be met head on with faith and true love. Human beings are created to be able to live freely and positively in love and faith, in any situation including time spent alone. We do not need to be our own worst enemies.
This winter, I will be spending many days alone. While I intend to fill those days with practicing my flute, yoga, writing, drawing, cleaning house, baking, and reading, I know I will come face-to-face with my emotions at some point. Perhaps it will be the change in light at sunset when the sky streaks pink and golden and when no one hears my flute’s song, no one is here to hold me. Perhaps it will be when I take a home-baked banana bread loaf out of the oven and realize I will be the only person savoring its deliciousness and sustaining food value. Perhaps it will happen when I first wake up and realize I am alone, or when I lie down to sleep with myself. Finding quality relationships takes time, and true love is worth waiting for. I will remind myself of this. I will spend time caring for myself, take an extra nap, or retire early if I feel more tired than usual.
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When Ready, Find a Way to Engage Positively with Others
Finally, there can come a point when one needs to return to others, even if only as an associate or friend. Write or call a friend or family member, even if just to send greetings. Find a positive social event to attend: a church celebration, a local dance, a yoga class, a music concert, a poetry reading, or a play. Research volunteer opportunities close to home and give back to others: tutor, serve in a soup kitchen, read to others, etc.
Ideally, strike a balance between taking quality time for oneself and spending loving, healthy time with others. Do not be afraid to spend the winter holidays—or any other time of the year—alone. The winter holidays can be a time of rest and rejuvenation for each of us, just as it is for the trees, grass, and the rest of nature that accept and endure winter’s cold, then burst out in spring’s glory.