A few summers ago, around the beginning of November, I sat alone on the beach taking in the sea air, white sand, glorious backdrop of Table Mountain and the rolling surf.
It smelled like sun-tan lotion, it sounded like fun, it should’ve been exciting: the holiday season was here.
Instead, I felt depressed and alone.
If you’re single over the summer holiday and your family’s away, the silly season can bring on some pretty unsilly feelings.
Hell, it can do that no matter what your situation.
Read more: 10 things that suck about being single
In fact, SADAG(the South African Depression and Anxiety Group), goes into high alert over this period.
Expectations, change of routine, money and family stress, feelings of inadequacy and worries about what the new year might hold don’t exactly make a cocktail of happy feels – no matter how much tinsel you attach to it.
So, if you’re feeling more nay than yay, here’s what will help get you through:
Curb your expectations
Got ideas about The Most Amazing Time EVA? Drop them.
The higher you build that perfection pedestal you’ve put your holiday on, the further you’ll fall when you realise you can’t control everything.
Take a social media holiday
If you suffer from FOMO or respond emotionally to other people’s ‘stuff’, practice self-care and switch off the platforms that affect you the most.
Come holiday time, I leave all social media except Instagram where I only follow artists and baby animal accounts.
Being single over the holiday season can be amazing or an amazing bummer when everyone is hooked up. This is when the power of Tinder gets real.
Use the platform for adventurous NSA day-to-night-time dates.
Create your own vibe
Plan a singles-only event around whatever day freaks you out the most. For me it’s usually Christmas Eve. And Christmas. And New Year’s. Also Boxing Day.
Basically, any high-expectation day. Your get-together doesn’t have to involve a big fuss or many people; do whatever feels comfortable. But do plan it ahead of time.
Read more: 6 online dating red flags to look out for
The quickest way to create a meaningful experience is to contribute to your community. Children’s hospitals, rescue animal sanctuaries and soup kitchens are great places to start.
Don’t have family for the big festive days? Or don’t want to be with them? Let your friends know and join their celebrations.
Draw up an events calendar so that your days are filled with people you love and things you love doing. And if you need the emotional support you can’t ask of your friends and family, contact SADAG.
Time to revise your life?
‘Loneliness isn’t about being alone, it’s about not feeling connected,’ is a great quote from Prof John T Cacioppo, a neuroscience researcher.
Not feeling connected can be caused by feelings of inadequacy, imperfection and shame.
If the holiday season is unleashing all sorts of unpleasant thoughts and feelings, look at what needs to change.
With some help, your downer this year, could be the beginning of some major life up-and-ups next year.