What to Do When You’re Spending the Holidays Without Family

2020 has been difficult for everyone in a variety of ways. With the holidays fast approaching, many people are about to experience another blow. 

Due to the pandemic, numerous families are opting to not get together this season. While the ultimate goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy, it isn’t an easy decision to make. 

Others may spend the holidays without family for different reasons. Maybe you’re in a different country, or you just can’t travel home this year like you thought you could. 

Whatever the case, spending this time of year without the people you love can be difficult. If you let it get to you too much, it can even have a negative impact on your overall mental health. So, what can you do when you’re spending your holidays without family? How can you still find joy in the season and make the most of it?

Manage Your Expectations

We tend to make the holidays a huge deal in our heads. Whether we get the ideas from Christmas movies, songs, or just the fantasy of having a magical season, it’s easy for your expectations to be a bit unrealistic, to begin with. 

This year, more than ever, it is so important to manage those expectations. You can still have a great holiday season while being realistic. Understand the reality of how the holidays will be and make sure other members of your family understand the same. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to be sad and disappointed. 

In fact, when everyone understands the “plan” ahead of time, it’s far less likely for anyone to experience disappointment. 

Make a Plan

Once you’ve accepted the fact that things may be different this year, make a plan of action. What will you do to make the holidays joyful for yourself? 

That might include baking your favorite cookies or making a traditional family recipe. Maybe you’ll connect with your entire family via Zoom and share a meal with each other. 

Or you might want to take this year to do something completely different. Doing something that you wouldn’t usually do can make the season feel less strange. Plus, you might gain a new perspective on the holidays. 


This time of year, whether you live in a big city or small community, most places are decorated with beautiful lights, ornaments, figures, and more. Take some time to get outside and go for a socially distanced walk in your town to appreciate the decorations and do some reflecting. 

You can take advantage of the practice of mindfulness in these situations, too. Instead of pining over past holiday seasons or worrying about what next year might bring, stay in the present. Think about everything you have to be grateful for this year and appreciate the beauty surrounding you. 

Many people associate the holiday season with stress and being busy all the time. This year will undoubtedly be different. It’s okay to embrace that, even if you may not like every aspect. Instead of focusing on the hectic busy feelings that usually come this time of year, focus on the quiet, and experience appreciation in the hope that next year, things will look more normal again. 

If you’re struggling to get through this holiday season without family, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Contact Integrative Psychotherapy Group if you’re having a hard time. Together, we can work on more ways to combat those feelings of stress, loneliness and disappointment, so you can find some comfort throughout the season, and beyond.