Ron Tustin - Alone For The Holidays
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"I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." - Henry David Thoreau
For a wide variety of reasons, many of us find ourselves alone for the holidays. Although the common message about Christmas and the summer holidays is about spending times with families and friends, there are many of us who will either choose or end up being on their own. Some people who are constantly surrounded by people may find it blissful to be unusually alone. For others though, this time can be an especially lonely and trying time. So this month I will talk about ways we can make this time less lonely.
Firstly it is so important to do some thinking about Christmas and the rest of the time you will be on holiday and how you will spend it. Some of the suggestions below will need some thought and prior planning.
Ways to spend time alone1. Adjusting our expectations.
Although all the marketing about Christmas focuses on traditional families, a quarter of New Zealand’s population now live alone and only a little over half live in households as couples. But apart from Christmas as seen as being for families there are many other categories of expectations about the season being just right that it brings up all sorts of issues relating to getting alone with family members, stress, eating disorders, alcohol misuse, self-esteem— the list goes on. There’s this idea that it’s supposed to be perfect, and if it’s not, the person asks, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ So you may begin to being on your own as a good option.2. Pick up the phone.
Call friends and ask to be included in whatever they’re doing. Offer to take food or see how you can contribute to the gathering. 3. You are not alone in being alone.
Is there a lonely person in your neighbourhood who might welcome some company - a refugee, an older or disabled person or a youngster who is alone? It often takes courage to approach people who are both neighbours and relative strangers, but such efforts can give life a deeper meaning.4. Be proactive.
Create an “alternative family” made up of people whose company you enjoy. Remember that you are not alone in being alone at this time. Get together with others and have some fun. One of my more memorable Christmases was a multi-course meal with a group who for different reasons found themselves on their own and moved around the table so that met everyone during the course of the meal. 5. Plan an outing.
Go on a long walk, bike ride, or to a park. Enjoy the outing with others or by yourself.
6. Look after yourself. Christmas Day may be one of your very few days off work. Soak in a bath, sleep in – all day or find some other special way to luxuriate. Do whatever you enjoy doing. 7. Reach out.
If, for some reason, you can’t be with family or loved ones, send them letters or e-mails or call them — in other words, reach out to them. 8. Help others.
Volunteering at The City Mission or other agencies will help you feel connected. If possible, participate in activities at other times of the year, not just on Christmas Day though. When you volunteer, you can expect two big rewards. First, you’ll be surrounded by people — by volunteers and staff who share your spirit of giving and by those you are helping. Never will someone be more grateful for a gift. Second, helping others in need is fulfilling. I know from my own experience that there’s nothing like this to pull you back to realizing how well you are.
If you are able to, get away for a few days. Travel agents often have special tours at this time of the year to cater for your needs. 10. Take on a home project.
Fix up the spare room, tidy up and replant the garden, or finish some other of those jobs around the house that you have put off all year.11. Rediscover an old creative talent.
If you have been promising yourself to learn that musical instrument or start painting or pottery again, today is the day to start. "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." - Wayne Dyer
And finally a little gift to you
… until next year! Please contact me if there is anything in this article you would like to discuss or place your comments on my blog.
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