When I was asked to write a piece for the single people who may be lonely through the holidays, I thought to myself: ‘How the hell did I get through nine winters alone?’ Then I remembered: I distracted myself with work and working out. Then after a long shift of waiting tables, I would finish my night with a shifty (a free drink) or three — and then I’d wake up for yoga before heading back to work again. I just needed to make it through the holidays to the New Year where all of my new goals, intentions and resolutions await. Just as long as I was physically healthy, the holiday-blues were not able to infiltrate my emotional immune system — and yo’ girl was able to bring the heat to most cold winters.
Instead of going on real dates with real men, I spent the cold nights with Jack, Jim and Jameson. There came a point when I got use to being by myself after realizing the extra stuff that came with being the plus-1. While everyone was putting on winter weight, I was getting fit for my New Year’s Eve dress to share the year-long awaited New Year’s Eve kiss with a champagne flute.
Lets be real: there is no miracle boo-shoot that will protect any of us from the holiday-blues. As humans, we are susceptible to human experiences, which includes loneliness—and being around couples who are more kissy and loving than normal, families that only get together around the holidays and WHAM! hearing nostalgic Christmas songs that remind us of last Christmas does not help. Since most of us aren’t able to escape the holidays by jumping onto an airplane headed towards some place warm (which I’ve done)—and because I don’t believe in quick-fixes when it comes to human beings being human—I’m hoping that this three step process will help alleviate the loneliness.
First and foremost, declare the breakdown. In other words, admit that you have caught a bad case of the holiday-blues. So instead of pretending to be jolly when you’re actually wondering what do the lonely do at Christmas, allow yourself to feel The Emotions. For a long time, I told myself that I didn’t want to be in a committed relationship—that marriage wasn’t for me—and I was better being single. When I was able to acknowledge the ‘inauthenticity’ of being single and was able to admit that I wanted to find a life-partner, a new world opened up for me. There was no longer a barrier between myself and men. I went from man-hater to a man-magnet. Dating was no longer dreadful but an adventure to be had. When we walk around pretending like everything is dandy when it’s not, there is no access to what is possible. We are more likely to suppress our feelings and emotions along with our wants and our desires. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s also not enough to simply declare a breakdown. Just like a regular cold, you’re going to have to nurse it. But before you do, distinguish the source of the symptoms.
Some of you have may have skipped the first step because you probably declared the breakdown three winters ago. Now, it’s time to distinguish the Why: Why do I have the holiday-blues? This is important because if we don’t distinguish ‘the Why’ there is a good chance that we’ll end up with a Valentine when all we wanted was a temporary cuddle buddy — while others may have to heal from a holiday fling that we thought was a forever thing. Be clear on whether or not the loneliness is a symptom of the holiday-blues — or if you really want to be in a committed relationship. If you find yourself catching the holiday-blues year-round, you might want to consider that what you are looking for is a committed relationship, which is a-whole-nother topic. But if you find yourself with a different boo, downloading dating apps or the urge to Netflix and chill more than normal every time winter comes around, consider that you may be someone who is more susceptible to the holiday-blues. You see, I was clear that I was looking for a committed partnership so I wasn’t going to waste my time on seasonal men who went missing during summer months. Ask yourself if the loneliness you’re experiencing is because you truly desire to be in a committed relationship or if it’s merely a symptom of the holiday-blues. If your answer is the latter, continue below.
Alright, so you have a mild or maybe severe case of the holiday-blues. Now all there is to do is decide how you’re going to be about it all. Within the process of distinguishing the source of your loneliness, you may have discovered what is missing in the winter months that make it so much harder being single than any other time of the year. Is it the act of giving or receiving gifts during the season? Is it the intimate conversations that happen around a fireplace? Is it the quality time spent at gatherings, decorating a tree or wrapping presents? Or is just the cozy cuddles in a warm bed on a cold day? Whatever it is, you decide — and then do something about it. If you want someone to shower gifts upon, find a local shelter, food drive or charitable organization that you can give your time or money to. And if you’re one who wants to receive, listen to Francis of Assisi, “For it is in giving that we receive.” If it’s the intimacy or quality time that you crave, reconnect with old friends, make connections with strangers or make that extra effort to go out even when you don’t want to. T’is the season of holiday parties. And if you can’t be bother going out, host your own! While it’s easy to call that convenient ex or hook-up with a random at a holiday party, it’s just as easy to volunteer your time, hit the gym a little harder or hibernate with a new book. Remember, there are consequences to every decision. You choose.
Because physical touch happens to be my primary love language, practicing hot yoga with a bunch of sweaty yogis got me through many cold and lonely winters — but there was one winter that was extra cold. I found myself with a cuddle buddy that didn’t mention he was on a break from his girlfriend until she messages me months later after going through his phone. All of that drama — and we didn’t even have sex.
For the first time in ten years, I will have a date for all of the holiday parties, someone to buy a gift for and a man to share a New Year’s Eve kiss with. Then there’s that part of me that misses the quiet nights in my cozy apartment alone, a freedom to flirt with all of the single men at Christmas party and the fact that I could buy myself an extra gift than think about what he needs. Regardless, it’s a stressful season. It’s important to take care of your health, to be present with your loved ones and to feed your spirit — whether you’re single or not.
Please note that SAD (Season Affective Disorder) is a real thing. Please seek a medical professional if you’re experiencing extreme depression or anxiety.