Holidays have been etched into the our calendars as moments we "should" be sharing with friends and family. But sometimes, for one reason or another (you've moved to a new city and haven't met friends yet or can't fly home to be with your family across the country), we can end up alone on holidays.
“The holidays are a moment when people often feel more lonely than solitude in their sense of being alone,” Sasha Cagen, author of Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics, told The Huffington Post. “But it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Cagen says enjoying the holidays on your own is all about intention. “Spending time alone during a holiday, if you’re intentional about it, can be really meaningful and a beautiful experience,” she explains.
And in that sense, spending Easter or Passover solo can offer just as much or even more significance than a traditional, guest-filled celebration. Of course, getting together with loved ones at these times of year has perks, Cagen says, but sometimes these sorts of moments can go on "autopilot,” where rituals can become scripted and taken for granted.
“Spending time alone on the holidays, in the way you design it, can really make you feel grateful for that holiday,” Cagen says. Creating your own rituals -- with no one else to accomodate -- can be satisfying and uplifting. She recalls this past Thanksgiving, for instance, when she chose to be alone and cook her own chicken soup to celebrate. “It was wonderful," she recalls "I really, deeply enjoyed the solitude and I felt much more grateful for Thanksgiving than I had in a long time."
But, still, many of us resist being alone. “We tend to view loneliness as a very unpleasant experience,” clinical social worker Marguerite Manteau-Rao told The Huffington Post. Yet there are ways to transform loneliness into something more positive. Remember: being alone doesn't have to mean the same thing as being lonely.
A few simple strategies can help you leverage your solitude into a positive experience.
“When you’re alone and feel lonely -- that’s a great opportunity to practice mindfulness and sit and explore," Manteau-Rao says. "You can explore what’s behind your loneliness.”
“It’s important to find things that make you feel whole,” adds Cagen. “For example, I don’t think sitting alone in your pajamas scrolling through Facebook will make you feel whole.”
So what to do if not Tweet? “Take a walk by yourself to sink into your experiences and allow yourself to go on a better path to enjoying your solitude,” Cagen suggests. She says you can help yourself feel whole by finding an activity you truly enjoy. If not a walk, then try “staring at a candle, writing, really going inward toward your aloneness." What’s most important is celebrating your solitude -- and owning it -- rather than thinking about it and comparing your experiences to others'.
Will you be alone for the spring holidays this year? Do you have rituals for celebrating solitude?