Spending Christmas Alone? Here’s 6 Ways to Make It Count
I love the holidays. I love summer in Australia. I have Bondi Beach at the end of my street. I grew up celebrating Christmas, and I live on the other side of the world from my family. As an adult, by choice, I have spent more Christmas days alone than I have in the company of others, in a non-celebratory self-congratulatory fashion. These are some ideas to make the day memorable and worthwhile in its own unique way when choosing to spend it on your own.
#1 Connect to nature
I’m down at the beach most mornings for yoga, meditation and a swim, and am looking forward to spending even more time outdoors. It’s summertime here in Australia and therefore easy to harp on about embracing nature and the outdoors. I’m also British and have spent many a Christmas in sub-zero conditions at my Granny’s in Scotland. We’d take a walk along the beach in Prestwick despite the weather. Get out there, feel the wind on your cheeks and breathe in the fresh air.
#2 Volunteer and donate
Clear space for yourself mentally and physically in 2016 by doing a clear out of possessions you no longer require, but are still in good nick, by donating them to your local charitable organisation.
Time and money
Volunteer your time to persons or a cause who would benefit from you and your skills. This could be your ability to carry a bag (collecting someone’s shopping for them), peel veggies, help someone with a project, or simply listen and be present. Loneliness has a profound affect on health – from an increased mortality risk, higher propensity for depression, and vulnerability to illness in older people – with scientists finding it is twice as bad for your health as obesity. Being lonely is not the same as being alone. Check out NSW Meals on Wheels Volunteering for a start, and sign up. And like a cute puppy, remember volunteering isn’t just for Christmas – it’s something you can get involved with for many years to come.
In Sydney, there’s a plethora of volunteering and donating opportunities at your fingertips. Surry Hills collective Streetlevel are seeking post-Christmas volunteers on December 29 and 30 to assist with packing away Christmas items and cleaning up. In Perth, you can join over 2000 people in Wellington Square Park for Mission Australia’s annual Christmas Day Lunch in the Park. For 40 years, they have been bringing people together to enjoy a meal, entertainment and companionship on Christmas Day, particularly those who might be isolated, lonely or doing it tough. Volunteering positions are full, but you can still donate, and of course, head along.
Feel you have a special set of skills you’d like to apply in a volunteering capacity? Good Company can link you up with organisations Australia-wide in need of support. According to Go Volunteer, there are over a whopping 11,700 opportunities to get involved on this big Island of ours. Choose one.
#3 Take a digital detox
Detox from December 25 to January 6. Social media can be a big time-wasting vortex, so reclaiming it means making the best possible use of your time. Remove social apps from your phone and declare your intention to your friends and followers. When you catch yourself in your digital habits ask yourself, ‘Is this the best use of my time right now?’ If you can honestly answer ‘yes’ then no worries, crack on. But if you’re all too often losing 20minutes (read: two hours) here and there mindlessly scrolling and clicking on the digital equivalent of fast food for the brain, reallocate that focus.
If people want to connect with you, they can see you, they can call you, at worst, text you. The art of conversation is a beautiful thing.
#4 Indulge (or find) your passions and creativity
Time is our most precious commodity (followed closely by health and freedom). Use yours wisely by investing in you via your passions. Use your freedom of expression and play, be it cooking, drawing, painting, writing, gardening, lovemaking, making mandalas in the sand, model airplanes, playing soccer, designing a new economic system that will eradicate world poverty. The choice is yours. Whatever captivates you to the point you lose all track of time, is time-less.
#5 Sit down and shut up
Sitting alone with our thoughts is not on high on our list of enjoyable activities. In fact, in a study for this very activity, researchers found that about a quarter of women and two-thirds of men chose electric shocks over their own company. Because logic. Getting quiet to connect to your intuition, subtle inner voice, reflect and reconnect to your soul is some of the best advice I can give.
It’s a rarity to have a length of time uninterrupted off work. If you’re up for the challenge, you can head along to a 10-day silent meditation called ‘Vipassana’ over the New Year (If it’s not too late – these things book out way in advance). As it’s a charitable organisation you leave a donation on completion of your 10 days, enabling someone else to experience Vipassana, pay it forward style. Vipassana is one of the best things I have ever done for myself.
No matter where you are, check into your place of stillness with a daily meditation practice, anything from five to 20 minutes. Double points for doing this twice a day, and if you can manage a one-hour sitting once per day, you’re a seasoned professional zen-master and I take my hat off to you.
#6 Hit snooze
Ah, the siesta, cat-nap, snooze, shut-eye. During childhood, every afternoon without fail, my Mum would tell me she was meditating – but in fact would be asleep. What a legend. Fast-forward to you and I now . We have no kidlets to trick – we can go to the land of nod whenever we damn well please. Pamper yourself and grab mini-sleeps throughout the day, allow your body to indicate to you when it needs rest and don’t be confined to what is ‘the norm’. It’s what hammocks and daybeds were made for.
Above all, enjoy it. You are totally deserving of your alone-time; you rock.
Rochelle Livingstone is a Bondi-based freelance writer, Hatha and Kundalini Yoga teacher, and artist currently kickstarter-fundraising a colouring-in book for Goddesses (because the world needs more colouring-in books). You can find more of Rochelle’s writing on her Medium.
Lead image: Unsplash