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How to Celebrate the Holidays Without Losing Your Mind

Under the best circumstances, the holidays can make a person crazy. There are so many expectations—those other people have—and those you have. In a lot of places, it’s cold and dark, which really doesn’t help. What’s a person, especially a single person, to do?

Here are some ideas for moving through the holidays with a minimum of stress.

Plan a Couple of Dates With Yourself

One of the messages I struggle with at this time of year is that everyone in couples is out there doing romantic things, usually in the snow or by candlelight. While most of the couples I know are just as stressed as I am, the jealousy is real.

Why not plan a holiday date or two with yourself? Do something that makes you feel special and festive (if that’s your jam). Go to a classic Christmas movie at a local theater. Get a massage. Drive around and look at the lights. Sip hot cocoa in your favorite cafe. Once, I took myself ice skating—such fun.

Whatever you do, make it meaningful and just for you, that’s the best part about dating yourself, you know yourself better than anyone. If you carve out these moments to care for yourself, you’ll be better equipped for the rest of the season.

Be Present

You probably have a few plans this year. Maybe a party here or there, a family gathering, something at work. It’s easy to be annoyed that you don’t have a partner to take along to these events, and even easier to spend that whole event thinking about that fact. This time around, try to be present to what’s actually happening. Maybe it’s an opportunity to connect with an acquaintance or family member you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe your favorite cheese ball will be there. Whatever happens, it’s the only version that exists right now. Try to honor the experience for what it is.

Pace Yourself

Although you may want to eat or drink your feelings away, try to make your consumption about true celebration. Go ahead and enjoy that soft cheese, those buttery cookies, that glass of sparkling wine, but be intentional. It’s easy to cross that threshold from treat to coping mechanism. I don’t know about you, but that always leaves me with a tummy ache.

Don’t Forget Self Care

Self care looks so different depending on the person, sometimes depending on the day. You might find that getting dressed up and going to a party is the right choice for one night and that staying in and having a bath or watching a movie in your pajamas is the right choice for another. Try to listen to what you’re asking yourself for. Are you tired? Lonely? Is your skin dry? All of your other interactions will benefit from you taking good care of yourself.

Spend According to Your Budget

It’s easy to feel like you need to buy gifts and decorate and in general behave like your coupled friends. Don’t listen to that voice. Most people don’t have great expectations of you, so don’t put that pressure on yourself. Give and celebrate to the level that makes you most comfortable.

Call in Your Support Group

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Call up your single friends and schedule a date (or chat on the phone). Offer support where you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for it in return.

This isn’t just limited to single friends, either. Lots of people struggle with the holidays for so many reasons, reach out to married friends, too. You never know what you might have in common.

This isn’t the time to slack off on therapy either, keep that appointment, you’ll thank yourself later.

Give Yourself Permission to Date (or not)

This season can feel difficult for dating. You’re already busy, do you really want to try to meet someone new? If the answer is yes, go ahead, make the time. It’s your life, and engaging in it the way you want to is your gift to you.

If, on the other hand, you’re wanting a break, give yourself a pass. The right person won’t pass you by because you gave dating a break for two weeks. Sip your eggnog and return to the dating world refreshed in the new year.


Cara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook.