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Surving the Holidays Single      
  dating advice · dating doctor · holidays

Q: I am 28 and despise the holiday season. From Thanksgiving to New Year's I find myself depressed. Most of my friends who are "taken" or married appear to really enjoy this time of year. I just can't seem to get into the spirit. Do you have any suggestions on how I can make it through the holidays?

Dating Doctor:Appearances can sometimes be very deceiving. I know of many couples who would say that being married or involved does not necessarily ensure a joyous and carefree holiday season.

Yes, couples are spending time with someone they (hopefully) care for, but the holiday season can develop into a hectic and stressful period for them as they manage twice the number of gatherings, obligations and commitments. Many couples must decide whose family to visit when both families reside out of town, and one side almost always feels "slighted."

I completely understand your mind-set. This time of year, every commercial, movie promotion, song or store display seems to emphasize sharing the season with another person. It is not a great time to be single with no strings attached -or is it? Sans three days, this time of year is exactly like the rest except that the sales industry blows the season so dramatically out of proportion that we need binoculars to catch a glimpse of its true meaning.

Here are several strategies that will allow you to preserve your dignity, sanity and physical health this holiday season:

1. Maintain your routine. If you regularly work out, keep up your regimen. If you don't, now is the time to start. Check for special holiday hours at your health club. On your days off work, develop a personal schedule. Turn off the television and get out of your house or apartment. Travel. Take in entertainment that you enjoy, and that makes you laugh (either alone or with a friend). Every moment you have occupied in a positive and productive manner, is a moment of potential despair you have triumphed over.

2. Manage your food intake. Remember that it's not what you eat between Thanksgiving and New Year's that matters, it's what you eat between New Year's and Thanksgiving. You will undoubtedly be tempted by countless offerings, so choose a few items, exercise moderation and leave something on your plate. Nobody likes the feeling associated with weight gain or clothes that fit too snugly. Many people use food as a way of comforting themselves during the holidays, then suffer the consequences once the season is over.

3. Buy yourself one nice gift! Pamper yourself. Make sure what you purchase didn't make it onto anyone else's shopping list or cause you financial burden. Yes, you deserve it!

4. Watch your cash flow! Be careful not to overspend on others in a vain attempt to make yourself feel better. In a few short weeks, those bills will arrive.

5. Mix in everyday music and shows. If you listen only to holiday carols and watch only holiday specials it will heighten your feelings of loneliness, despair and emptiness.

6. Decorate your surroundings for the season. Don't cheat yourself or those who visit out of experiencing the holiday pageantry. Invite friends and family to help you beautify your home. Make it a special event and tell them to bring single friends!

7. Finally, volunteer your time. You will feel good about the service you are providing and will interact with people whose situations may make you appreciate the good fortune you have in your life. Who knows, you might even meet an available fellow volunteer in the process. Then, the holidays might not seem so bad after all. : Everything Dating from Pick-up to Break-up

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