RedEye

Flying solo for the season

Coping with loneliness over the holidays can be especially challenging. We've compiled some advice from best-selling authors and experts to help you feel armed and ready to face the loneliness this holiday season.

Plan singles events. "It's easy to feel left out during the holidays if everyone around you is coupled up," said Dr. Laura Berman, host of "In The Bedroom" on the Oprah Winfrey Network. "The key is to fill your schedule with single-friendly events as well. Have a holiday party where you ask each guest to bring one single friend. Volunteer your time at a local shelter or help answer letters from Santa at the post office to help boost holiday spirit and meet like-minded singles. Offer to take your nieces or nephews ice-skating so Mom and Dad have time to Christmas shop. It will not only get you of the house, it will help remind you of the joys of being single as you come home exhausted and relax with a glass of wine in your quiet house. Or, if time and finances permit, consider taking a trip somewhere you have always dreamed of going, even if you have to travel solo. Make this the year that you live without regrets."

Understand your loneliness. "Defining the difference between being 'lonely' and being 'alone' has been a great coping mechanism for me," said radio host and author John St. Augustine. "You can be with another person and still feel lonely but not be alone. In the times I have had loneliness due to the loss of someone close to me for whatever the reason may be, I begin to understand that it's not just them I miss, but who I was when I was with them that I miss. That recognition of the source of my loneliness allows me to move through the emotions without getting bogged down by them. Once you define a thing, you can change anything."

Look for common ground. "When you're lonely, it may feel hard to reach out, but a key to connecting is to focus on what you have in common with others, not on what you don't," said author and psychiatrist Dr. Judith Orloff. "I find this especially useful at holiday parties…since I'm basically shy, I find it hard to break the ice with new people. They look like they're in cliques to me. I don't want to intrude where I don't belong. Such thinking only fosters loneliness and paints an unfriendly world. Instead, I remember my teacher's words: 'We're all basically the same, though we may act differently.' Then, feeling more in common with my fellow partygoers, I can smile and say 'hi' rather than stay in my corner. The roots of our division come from not seeing similarities. In your interactions, look for them rather than harping on differences."

Look inside yourself. "Solitude doesn't necessary make one lonely and being surrounded by a roomful of people doesn't ward loneliness off either," said author Sarah McLean, founder of the McLean Meditation Institute. "The solution to loneliness doesn't lie 'out there' in the world. Dealing with loneliness is an inside job. Don't wait for someone to call, invite you out, or to distract you from your feelings. Waiting for things to change can cause a lot of misery. Every situation is better faced with a peaceful mind. Meditation helps you to connect with yourself, your ideas, your inspiration, your creativity and your heart. When you meditate, you will see that the present moment is where happiness lies, where life is lived. You'll be more engaged with the present moment."

Choose joy. "Lonely is a choice. So is joy. I choose joy," said author and motivational speaker Kelly Standing. "When I got divorced and moved to Chicago, I decided to date myself. Every Friday or Saturday night, I took myself to a new place. Sure, I could sit there feeling like a loser, eating alone, or I could decide to see my circumstances as promising, empowering, and liberating...I joined a singles adventure club full of people who liked to do the active and adventurous things I had on my bucket list — sky diving, rock climbing, dance lessons at Fred Astaire. And nothing you do solo this season has to cost a lot of money. Every year, I love taking myself on a self-guided field trip to the lobbies of all the special hotels in town, big or small. They're all decked out so beautifully for the holidays. I sit for a few minutes in each one, watching travelers come and go, ordering an adult beverage or some hot chocolate when the mood strikes. Hotels provide great people-watching. Go out and sniff all that great greenery, see the sights, taste the possibilities.."

jweigel@tribune.com

Twitter: @jenweigel

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Aldermen looking to stop stores from getting around plastic bag ban

    Aldermen looking to stop stores from getting around plastic bag ban

    Chicago's ban on plastic bags starts to take effect at many big stores Saturday, but an alderman who helped craft the law already is talking about changing it in order to thwart a few large retail chains that he says are trying to skirt the new rules.

  • State police: Man shot while riding in van on Eisenhower

    State police: Man shot while riding in van on Eisenhower

    A man was shot multiple times while traveling in a minivan on the inbound Eisenhower Expressway on Friday morning, authorities said.

  • Lollapalooza liquor gardening: fact or fiction?

    Lollapalooza liquor gardening: fact or fiction?

    It may sound like an urban legend: Music festival-goers bury bottles of booze in Chicago parks, plot a GPS location for the goods and uncover them days later when the festival comes alive.

  • Chicago plans to cut O'Hare noise by rotating runways at night

    Chicago plans to cut O'Hare noise by rotating runways at night

    The Emanuel administration on Friday will propose an experiment at O'Hare International Airport to rotate the runways used late at night, possibly on a weekly basis, to spread out jet noise, the city's aviation chief told the Chicago Tribune.

  • Almost 6 acres of land added near Fullerton Avenue Beach

    Almost 6 acres of land added near Fullerton Avenue Beach

    Along Chicago's lakefront at Fullerton Avenue Beach, cranes rolled along a causeway that only a few months ago was part of the lake itself. Every day this summer, roughly 40 construction workers are filling in Lake Michigan with dredged material and gravel, which will eventually add up to 5.8 acres...

  • Doughnut panic

    Doughnut panic

    I'm not ashamed to admit that for the past several years, I have mapped my walk to work around which doughnut shop I'd like an excuse to stop at on the way. There's nothing like the thought of a crunchy, craggy old fashioned doughnut or the sweet, yeasty chew of a classic glazed doughnut to help...

Comments
Loading
77°