How to enjoy Christmas on your own

Even if you are flying solo, there are plenty of ways to make the most of the festive season.

It’s supposed to be a picture perfect time of year. A time of family gatherings, of sharing memories and laughs and of togetherness. The pressure to live up to the cosy family images we see in movies and on Christmas cards is intense. 

But for many Australians, the festive season can be a lonely time. If you’ve lost a loved one, if you are estranged from family, or if close family and friends are in other parts of the country or the world, then Christmas can be a challenging period to get through. 

“People have beliefs that Christmas is going to be fantastic – we think and hope that everything will be perfect, that everyone will get along and that the Christmas spirit will be alive and well,” says beyondblue psychiatrist Associate Professor Michael Baigent. 

“But expectations can fall short and people can be disappointed when things don’t work out as they expect at this time of year.” 

If you are facing Christmas alone, you may run a gamut of emotions – from sadness and grief to anger and anxiety. But planning ahead can help manage those emotions.  

“Have some understanding about what Christmas means to you and what you think your Christmas is really going to be like,” Michael says. 

“In the lead up to Christmas you may be thinking that it’s going to be terrible because you are by yourself and you need to be surrounded by people to be happy. But spending Christmas with some time to yourself may be a relief.” 

Plan ahead

What do you normally like to do when you have time alone? Think about what you enjoy doing when you are by yourself and do those same things during Christmas. 

If you can’t be with them, call friends and family on Christmas Day and chat. 

Schedule your day. For example, go to a local church service at 9am, go for a walk at 11am, have lunch, catch a movie at 3pm, call friends at 7pm, watch TV from 8pm. 

“Don’t rely on drink. It will make you feel a little better to begin with but it only ends up amplifying the feelings lying underneath,” Michael says. 

“If you exclude any religious meaning that you may attach to the day, Christmas Day is like any other day of the year. The sun will rise and set. So take away the glitter and remember, it’s really just another day.”  

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