I know this may be a controversial statement, but it is OK to not go home for the holidays.
While every Hallmark movie ever lauds the magic of grabbing your wooly scarf, stuffing your suitcase and heading home for cocoa by the fire and strolls down Main Street—the reality is much more stressful.
Even without the same precautions as the past two years, flights have frequently been canceled or rerouted. People seem more exhausted and on edge lately, and conflicts with family and friends just don’t get resolved and wrapped up the way they do on TV.
So, if you’ve been debating whether to stay put this season and hibernate until Jan 1st, I fully support you! In fact, I have put together a few tips to help you make your final decision and how to enjoy the holidays solo, if you so choose.
If You’re On The Fence, Try This Visualization Exercise
The truth is that not everyone has a happy home life. Being around family and old friends can stir up a lot of emotions, past trauma and unhealthy interactions that can affect our mental well-being long after the holiday lights are packed away.
In addition, there is a lot of pressure from both outside society and inside our close circles to be cheery and “in the spirit” this time of year. You may worry you’ll ruin someone else’s good time by setting firm boundaries or not feeling a certain way, but you shouldn’t have to force it.
And it can damage your health.
Benjamin White, an LCSW/CGP based in Colorado, recommends that you “visualize how you behave when you’re with family, and what effect that has on you in the following weeks and months.” If you end up partaking in destructive behaviors to deal with your true feelings or cope with a stressful situation, it may be time to reconsider making the trip home this year.
You Have The Final Say In What You Do. Period.
There are so many great reasons why you might not travel for the holidays.
- It’s less stressful mentally and physically.
- It saves you time and money.
- It keeps you safer from those winter colds and the flu.
But the best reason of all is that it’s your choice what you do for the holidays, and no one else’s. I know there is a lot of guilt that comes with not going home for the holidays, but you gotta do what’s best for you.
Your loved ones may be disappointed, which is totally natural, but they ultimately want what’s best for you. (Read on to learn about alternative ways to still celebrate with them too.)
And contrary to what you may think, research has shown people are becoming more open-minded and understanding when social events are turned down.
Plan an Alternate Holiday Celebration
The best part about not having to travel this winter is that you can get creative with how you celebrate the holidays! This is a perfect opportunity to design a break that’s filled with all the little joys that inspire you.
Don’t be shy about decorating your home, even if you and your pet are the only ones who will see it. Or if you don’t want to worry about having to take down everything later, how about using festive scented candles and music to set the mood.
Reach out to other friends who are also staying put and plan a casual get together. You can stay traditional with a potluck dinner or baking cookies. You can browse a local holiday market or drive around and look at lights in the neighborhood. Or even run a holiday-themed 5K together.
And don’t forget that you can organize a virtual celebration with your family as well, so that even though you won’t be home in person, you can still share some time together.
Keep Yourself Busy (but not TOO busy!)
If you’re super stoked about time to yourself, my recommendation is to still plan some low-key solo activities. This way, especially if you start to feel sad or homesick, you can keep your mind focused on the spirit of the season.
I love to snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie marathon. There are some great out-of-the-box holiday selections, like Die Hard or Batman Returns, if you’re not in the mood for sentiment. Prep a special meal, like a hearty chili or soup, or try one of my superfood desserts recipes here.
Take Advantage of the Peace and Quiet
Another advantage to not going home for the holidays is that the world quiets down. The shops are closed, the boss is on vacation, and no one expects you to be available.
Be sure to unplug as often as possible and get outdoors as much as you can. Journal. Meditate. Try out a new yoga routine in the comfort of your own living room, taking as long as you need. Sip your toasty beverage and watch the snow fall (or if you live in a warm climate, maybe that channel that plays the Yule log 24/7).
Nature is giving you a present in the form of space for reflection and replenishment, so use it (or waste it) wisely!
What are your holiday plans this year? Will you be staying home or traveling? Let me know in the comments below.