Home Alone for the Holidays - Four Directions Wellness

Home Alone for the Holidays

Home Alone came to movie theaters in 1990—27 years ago! While it seems inconceivable that you could accidentally leave your eight-year-old home alone for the holidays while heading out on vacation, I suppose it happens. But, what if you are the one being left alone, like young Kevin McAllister (played by Macaulay Culkin), during the holiday season?

Key Strategies for Loneliness During Holidays | Home Alone for the Holidays

There are many reasons that one might find him- or herself alone for the holidays. In my family, I have several commercial pilots who often find that they are scheduled to work on the holidays. There are many other occupations that require people to work the holiday. Some families may delay the holiday festivities until all can be home. Let’s face it, though. That is not always possible. And sometimes we find that we are home for the holidays for reasons such as too much family drama; the recent loss of a spouse or loved one leaving no other family or other life circumstances. If this is describing your circumstances, please know that you are not alone.

While you might think that you can easily get through the upcoming holiday, often when the day arrives, we can’t help but wish to be with others. Feelings of loneliness and depression may overwhelm us. How do you cope? What are some key strategies to help you get through the holiday season?

In a recent PsychCentral blog by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., titled, “Coping with Loneliness During the Holidays,” the following recommendations are key strategies to help get through the holiday blues.

  • Seek Company: Be prepared for the holiday. Realize that when the day arrives, you may feel very lonely. Reach out to family or friends or community to plan to be around others during the day, even if for only an hour.
  • Share your Feelings: Take time to share your true feelings with a trusted friend or confidant. Voicing your feelings with another helps to provide needed recognition and supports the healing process.
  • Ask for what You Need: We often hope that others will remember that our loved one has passed away or that we are not able to travel home to our family. It is important to realize though that well meaning family or friends may not. Take time to reach out and specifically ask for what you need. Ask this of those who are your trusted friends or loved ones.
  • Avoid Social Media: Social media leaves many people feeling empty and as if other’s lives are better than their own. It is best to avoid social media and instead seek to engage personally with others.
  • Honor your Feelings: Recognize and name those emotions that are showing up for you. Take time to journal all those feelings and memories of previous holidays. What do you remember about those holidays? Who was present? What do you love most about that time?
  • Practice Self-Care: Plan to do activities that bring you happiness or joy. The activity might be cooking, reading, watching a good movie, walking, meditating, etc. You might also wish to plan something special for that week such as scheduling a massage or planning a luncheon with a friend.
  • Have Realistic Expectations: It’s a difficult time. These recommendations may not ensure a wonderful day but realizing and setting realistic expectations of the day is helpful.
  • Question your Social Group: If you are out with your friends and finding that you simply are not comfortable, Tartakovsky recommends that this may be an indication that it is time to make new friends. Find the group of people who best reflect your values and who support you.
  • Volunteer: It is the season of giving. To lift your spirits and appreciate this particular holiday, consider volunteering and helping others who are in most need.
  • Seek Therapy: And finally, know that there is always help available to you. Support groups for those who have lost loved ones, therapists for one-on-one sessions and spiritual counseling for those seeking a larger understanding of all that is happening.

Make It a Holiday Vacation, or Staycation | Home Alone for the Holidays

If you happen to find yourself home alone for the holidays, you can chose to make it a positive experience. Dedicate your time by enjoying a holiday-themed vacation or staycation plans. This might be the welcome respite you’ve been looking for all year long!

With so much to see during the holidays, this is your opportunity to make an entire holiday week (or weekend) of traversing the city and surrounding areas to see the Main Street districts lit up with seasonal lights and seeing the sites. Sometimes being a tourist in your own city can be a joy, especially with people away for the holidays, and therefore, less traffic.

There are the holiday markets (you’ve got available to you such as the Downtown Holiday Market near Gallery Place/Chinatown and the other Holiday Market at Eastern Market. Then, you can go skating at the ice skating rink at the Sculpture Garden or the Washington National Harbor ice skating rink.

You don’t want to miss the Christmas on the Potomac festivities, which include the Christmas Village, ICE! (see the video below to check out the little village made of ice), musical performances, and more events happening throughout the season.

So, while you may not be Kevin fighting off thieves attempting to break in and steal your family’s belongings during the holidays, it can feel like a challenge being home alone for the holidays. Chase away the holiday blues by following one or more of the key strategies identified above. Better yet, make it a holiday vacation or staycation with all that the DC area has to offer.

What are your favorite strategies for surviving the holidays? I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations.


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