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With the holidays here, it can be a tough time – especially if you are separated from family and friends. Here are some tips to help deal with it.

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1. Don’t get caught up in Hallmark expectations

The sepia-toned mental image have of the perfect family holiday is more often than not just that – an image. There can be so much expectation about the season being just right that it brings up all sorts of stresses. Make it right for you – you don’t have to answer to anyone else.


2. Pick up the phone

If you feel the need for company, call some friends and see if they’d mind having an extra guest. Offer to bring a dish or see how you can contribute.

It’s sometimes tough to invite yourself, but most people love opening their homes and expanding the celebration. It works for everyone.

3. Be proactive

Call your friends, find your people, and create your own gathering. One potluck feast and a few good friends can be much more fun than an awkward family gathering.

Remember that you are not alone in being alone during the holidays. Get together with others and have some fun.

4. Explore

With most people stuck at home or in front of the TV, Thanksgiving can be a great time to explore without crowds around. Go on a hike, or go to the movies or a park. Fly a kite. Walk on the beach. Enjoy the day.

5. Projectize

Thanksgiving is a holiday – but it’s also the start of what could be an easy four-day weekend you could use to take on one of those house projects you’ve been meaning to do. Stock up on materials early in the week – before the Black Friday crowds hit – and spend the weekend building that new bookshelf or repainting that guestroom.

6. Help others

Volunteering at a mission or shelter for the homeless can help you feel connected to others, and avoid that feeling of isolation. It does make it a little more fulfilling if you participate in activities with this organization at other times of the year as well, but making connections can start on any day.

7. Travel

If you can afford it, get away for a few days. Go skiing or take a tropical holiday – this is a great time to get deals to vacation spots while most people are traveling to be with family. Singles groups often have tour groups during the holidays. New input can help distract you from holiday blues.

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8. Reach out

If you can’t be with family or loved ones during this time of the year, send them letters or e-mails or call them — in other words, reach out to them.

But make sure the calls are a nice diversion for the day, not the centerpiece of it. You should enjoy the moments of contact, not dwell on the fact that you’re not with family and friends.

9. Pamper yourself

Plenty of spas are open during the holidays to help people deal with the season. Treat yourself to a spa day – or a spa few days. Some spas will offer themed weeks of relaxation based around the holidays.

If you’d prefer to stay closer to home, there’s always a candlelight bubble bath followed by hot chocolate, a warm blanket and a movie.

10. Play

Have you been telling yourself you’d start painting again or get back to the guitar? Now’s your chance.

If you aren’t normally artistically inclined, get an adult coloring book and box of crayons – it’s a simple place to start, and fun.

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