Here you are, facing the holiday season alone. Have you been thinking about?

*how alone and lonely you feel
*excuses you can give family members as to why you can't come this year
*what friends may be available to spend those long days with
*how another year has passed and you are (still) single
*how unfair it is that everyone else seems so happy and connected
*how you will handle the office holiday party- single, take a friend, not attend
*going to a far away (tropical?) place to escape it all
*hiding out, alone, in your own home.

If these thoughts sound familiar it is probably time to reflect on your
feelings regarding this holiday season. If your goal is to hide out and
endure it alone, you won't need to do too much planning. However, if you wish
to experience at least a measure of the "peace and joy" associated with this
time of year, you need to make and follow through with plans that allow you
to participate in ways that are meaningful to YOU.

Remember, your senses are bombarded from October to December with music,
images and Hallmark verses depicting the "right" experiences and expressions
for the season. Remind yourself, every day if necessary, that there's nothing
wrong with being single. You have the same need and right to enjoy this
season as any couple or family does. How you choose to do this is up to you.
After you have done some serious reflection, consider the following list of
10 holiday tips designed especially for singles.

1. Don't make plans out of a sense of obligation. This is also your holiday
season. Set limits, make good choices and enjoy. You may ask yourself; "do I
really want to go out"? If so, make your next question something like; "does
it sound like something I would enjoy or be interested in?" Or, "will I have
the opportunity to meet and mix with other singles?"

2. Avoid unrealistic expectations from others, from yourself and from the
holidays themselves. Relax, enjoy and don't expect so much that you will feel
hurt or disappointed when things don't turn out just as you had imagined.
This will defeat all the positive feelings and experiences that you may have
already gained.

3. Make sure you give thanks for all the blessings you do have in your life.
Focusing on what you don't have only encourages negative thoughts. Add a
prayer of hope for the things you would like to work for in the coming year.

4. Don't overbook or overstay a good amount of time with relatives/friends.
Sometimes a shorter stay works best and leaves you energy and space to get
back to your own home and decompress.

5. Look for ways to give to or do for others. Feeling useful and appreciated
will provide a great boost to your holiday spirits. Check into volunteer
opportunities at local shelters and nursing homes or through any local church
or nonprofit group.

6. Don't plan to spend the entire holiday season with married /coupled family
and friends. Seek out other singles and singles groups/ activities where you
can feel relaxed and able to share with folks you have more in common with at
this time. Better yet, plan a get together with other singles for one of the
holidays. A festive potluck meal, tree trimming party or other holiday event
would probably be much appreciated.

7. Do avoid using food, alcohol or drugs to cope with holiday stress. Nothing
is worse than the feelings that follow the use (or wrong use) of these
things. This way of coping leads to depression, low self-esteem and a greater
sense of isolation and despair.

8. Do decorate your home with any and all things that make it feel more
festive and fun for YOU. Tune into all those wonderful traditions you grew up
with. It does not have to be very costly or time consuming to begin your own
traditions in your own place. Don't put off or deny yourself those happy
holiday expressions, as you wait for your significant other. Make your life
all it can be right now.

9. Consider emphasizing the more spiritual aspects of the holiday. Go to a
concert featuring religious holiday music or attend a church (or other)
service, (even better with a friend).

10. Finally, going away to an exotic place may be just what you do need. Look
into tour or vacation packages for singles. This may provide plenty of rest
and relaxation and help you meet new friends and develop new interests.

Whatever you decide to do for your holidays, have fun and enjoy them. Focus
on taking care of yourself and doing what is right for you. This way you will
also be giving your best to those around you. Happy Holidays!

Toni Coleman LCSW

Author's Bio: 

Toni Coleman is a psychotherapist and relationship coach who specializes in working with singles wanting intimate lasting relationships. She is the founder and President of LifeChange Coaching and consum-mate relationship coaching. She created and leads the Creating Lasting Relationships Training. This teleworkshop is designed to provide singles with the knowledge and tools needed to create a succesful, intimate relationship.