Being single during the holidays doesn’t have to be a self-pity fest. Really. Check out all the marvelous ways your single status is a holiday perk.

The holidays can be a time of loneliness and stress for many of us. We all seem to get the “grass is always greener” feeling during the holidays, feeling like we can’t give enough, have enough, or do enough. Being single during the “happiest time of year” can lead to a lot of un-happiness when you get caught up in a feeling of lack or loneliness.

If you find yourself struggling with your single status over the holidays, shifting your mindset can help you cope. Who knows, you might find a reason why being single during the holidays is actually the best! Here are a few ideas to boost your spirits through the holidays.

You can be self-ish.

It is important to learn how to be self-ish, in the healthy, self-care kind of way. When you learn how to care for yourself, you develop the wholeness that helps you thrive in a healthy relationship. Find ways to do things that make you happy, both big and small.

A fun way to love yourself when you’re single during the holidays is to spend the money that you might have spent on a partner on none other but you! Buy yourself some gifts, wrap them up, and then unwrap them on the big day. Be indulgent. Be silly. Be kind to yourself. While I think we can all agree that the meaning of the holidays is not about gifts, this can be a fun act of self-love and playfulness that can help uplift your spirits.

You can embrace freedom.

When you’re single, you don’t have to figure out how to share time with two different families and traditions. You can do what makes you happy. If you don’t want to be with your family, or are unable for some reason, why not take a trip somewhere alone? (Or maybe you ditch the family even if you really love to be with them, but you need to be self-ish more than you need to be home!) You can create a new tradition for yourself.

You may not be single forever, so you can take advantage of this time to do whatever your heart desires, with no one else to please.

You can be your own date.

If you’re invited to holiday parties but you dread showing up without a date, take yourself as your date. You may even have more fun alone. If you feel self-conscious, try setting an intention to go to parties with an openness to be social, courageous, and confident. Own your single status. (And who knows who you might meet!)

You can surrender.

During the winter months, it is a time when our bodies and our spirits retreat and slow down. In a sense, we hibernate. Hibernation means your body may not have the energy to fight.

If you’re feeling down about being single, this can be a time to lean into the feeling of loneliness, instead of resisting. Find ways to nourish yourself. Let the holidays be a time of regeneration, healing, and quiet. Remember that just as the seasons change, so do our relationships, our emotions, and our situations. Nothing remains the same forever. Lean in to your feelings and trust that they will pass.

You can always choose a different story about your situation, and create the holidays that you want. If your story is one of lack, loneliness, or heartbreak, chances are, it will be a holiday season that reflects those feelings for you. You could focus instead on freedom, self-love, and acceptance of this temporary season of your life. This shift can be a powerful tonic to boost your mood, and keep your mindset positive during the holidays.

About the Author:

Chelli Pumphrey

Chelli Pumphrey, MA, LPC is a love & dating coach and a Licensed Professional Counselor from Denver, CO. More importantly, she’s a human being who strives to live an authentic life, by being real, raw, and unafraid to express her truth. She is devoted to helping others live and love passionately by gaining the confidence to be authentic in their own lives. She works with clients through her relationship coaching practice and as a therapist and founder of Trilogy Holistic Mental Health, where she offers retreats, dating and relationship coaching and therapy. If you’re looking to boost your dating confidence, self-esteem, and become a dating warrior, you can visit Chelli at AuthenticDate.com, Trilogy Holistic Mental Health, follow on Instagram, Twitter, or like her on Facebook.

My 91-year-old grandmother hasn’t dated for 20 years, and is the first to say she has “never, ever” missed the married life that followed her well into her 50s.

“What can I say,” she said during a recent phone conversation. “I’ve just been happier in my single life.”

Growing up and even now, I’ve always admired how she maintains friendships yet has no problem with saying “no” when she simply doesn’t want to do something. There are no excuses of aches and pains or sickness — even though she has plenty of them.

“You know, thank you so much for the invite, but I just don’t feel like doing that.” I’ve heard her use a line similar to this over the years. And if you saw the Christmas cards decorating her door frames in her apartment during the holiday season, you’d realize she never lost a friend over her honesty.

Now that she is less mobile and no longer drives, she certainly misses the ability to drop everything and go. After becoming a widow in her fifties, she spent much of her time traveling after retirement. There wasn’t a spring that she wasn’t in Florida or Missouri visiting family. She took line dancing lessons until her body said “that’s enough.” She was on committees and volunteered her time at church functions and frequented class “luncheons” with her old high school pals.

“It sounds silly, but I never got lonely,” she explained. “I always had something that interested me. And I didn’t think twice about it. I did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.”

I often think of this when I’m hesitant about being social or trying something new — which comes more often than not.

Even though she grew up in a time when couples typically stay married no matter what (as she admits, she did for her two children), she whole-heartedly advises against people staying married for the sake of children or because that’s simply what society “does.” My grandmother is this combination of traditional values but with an acceptance of modern lifestyle. As someone who has embraced her independence, what is her advice to today’s singles?

“Do people still do bowling leagues?” she asked me, recalling one of her favorite activities. My hesitation answered her question.

“Well, in any case. Don’t forget the things you’ve always enjoyed. Young people are always so busy now that they forget the things that actually bring them joy,” she said.

Gram also said, when it’s time to settle down, how important it is to find a partner who shares the same interests as you — something she didn’t have with her husband.

“Sure, have one or two things you do away from each other. But, I look at my friends now who are still married, and I think the key to their happiness is having many common interests.”

When Gram told me this, I had an a-ha moment of sorts. Not that sharing common interests is particularly new information, but it made me wonder: because she was always true to the activities and hobbies she’d enjoyed since her early days (dancing, traveling, bowling), she always had a common interest with someone. So between maintaining the things that brought her joy and putting an importance on friendship, she has never waltzed with loneliness.

Perhaps, then, single or otherwise, our happiness is largely dependent on maintenance. Being one-dimensional happens to everyone at some point. We get so caught up in work or school or relationships that we forget that there’s life outside of our self-created “bubble.” Along with enjoying the same activities, I’ve learned it’s also important to be in a partnership where each of you have one another’s best interest as a common interest. That means making sure your partner is still doing the things they love to do — that way, being in a relationship doesn’t become a compromise. And if you’re not in a relationship — now is the time to figure out exactly what you love to do, because that is what’s going to help you find balance and happiness.

Related: Why Being Alone on a Snow Day Is the Best

Single During the Holidays? How to Avoid Feeling like Crap

This time of year is spectacular. Or not. Yes, we get to eat more, work less, shop till we drop, and frolic with friends and family. Also, it’s a time of reflection; and as we count our blessings, we may think about what’s missing in our otherwise fulfilled lives. Especially if we are single.

When I was single, the holidays put me in a bit of a funk. With no one to take to parties or make out with at midnight, being single during the holidays put an exclamation point on what I still wanted in my life: a loving man.

Now I’m married and grateful to have a magnificent man in my life. But as I talk to my single girlfriends and coach my single clients over 40, I feel for them; and I can still feel my sadness and disappointment as if it was yesterday.

It may be just moments: a flash of “Will I ever have a man to share the holidays with?” It can be a constant, low-level feeling of emptiness, or sadness when thinking about happier holidays past. Either way, it’s painful.

Here are tips I wish I had received when I was single and facing the holidays. This is about YOU making the best of the time for yourself and for other.

1. Make Plans.

My best advice to single women over 40 any time of year is to create their best life possible. If you’re not yet doing that for yourself, start now. Don’t wait for invitations or others to entertain you. Connect with old friends, throw a dinner party, sign up to volunteer, plan a girls’ weekend, read a great book or get tickets to a holiday show.

Make a list of five places you can go to possibly meet other singles over 40 who share your passions or interests. www.Meetup.com is a great place to start.

Don’t stay in the background; get out there! This is actually a great time of year to be out and about looking for connections — both with men and women. Oh! And you’ll enjoy your time!

2. Express Your Wishes.

If this is the time of year you are grilled about your love life – and it drives you nuts – clearly tell your family how you feel and ask that they kindly skip the interrogation this year.

Come up with a canned answer to use when your cousin asks you for the umpteenth time if you are dating. Something like “I don’t kiss and tell,” or “You’ll be the first to know,” should shut down any follow up questions.

As a single woman, gift giving may have inequalities or unrealistic expectations. Talk to your family members about picking a name, sharing gift giving, or going on an outing instead of buying “stuff.”

3. Take Care of Yourself: Body and Soul.

You should always do this, but this is the time you have an “excuse” to go for it and pamper yourself! Have a massage, sleep until noon, splurge on an overpriced pair of shoes, see two movies in a row and order popcorn at each.

Create a nice environment for yourself. Decorate your front door or mantle, or bake to fill your home with yummy smells.

If you think it will help you, chat with a therapist or coach. Let that person work with you to realize your feelings and make plans. This is a luxury you may not always allow yourself.

4. Do Unto Others.

Volunteer your time, offer to help an elderly family member or friend do their holiday shopping, or send loving and generous cards to the people you care about. Giving of yourself and feeling appreciated will provide a great boost to your holiday spirits.

5. Don’t Force Things.

Don’t have a first date at your company holiday party or invite a man you’ve just started dating to your family gathering. It may ease your tension about what you want for the holiday season, but it may also ruin your chances going forward with someone you like. You shouldn’t fabricate or rush things at other times of year, and there’s no exception here.

Wherever you are in your relationship: maintain it. Don’t push it.

6. A Date May Just Be a Date.

If you have a date, don’t overthink it. Avoid misunderstandings by keeping it in perspective. When a man shares time with you during the holidays, that’s generally what he’s doing: sharing time with you. The meaning women tend to put into this is often not shared by men. If he agrees to go with you to your parties or even takes you to his, it means he likes spending time with you. Enjoy it and be glad he likes your company, but don’t give it more importance that it warrants.

7. Remember that You’re Not Alone.

The idea that the holidays have the highest rate of depression and suicide seems to be untrue. But people do have issues: family, money, spouses, and dates can all be extra challenging this time of year.

Don’t hesitate to share feelings – good and bad – with friends. You’ll probably be doing a friend a favor if you opened up. She may want to talk about her feelings as well.

8. Practice Gratitude.

Write a list of all the things for which you are grateful in your life. Include people, things, experiences, dreams and possibilities. Read your list every day and add to it as you learn new things.

9. Nurture Your Relationships.

Openly share your gratitude and appreciation of the important people in your life. If you’re not accustomed to doing this or are uncomfortable doing it, write a letter and give it them as their holiday present.

10. Put Yourself Out There.

Get online, join a singles wine club or volunteer organization, go to a singles event, etc. If you’ve been waiting…just do it! When you are single during the holidays this is the best gift you can give yourself. It doesn’t mean you’ll meet Mr. I Love You tomorrow, but you’ll feel love and pride in yourself just by making the move.

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Single during the holidays

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