Self, Health And Wellness

11 Ways To Spend Thanksgiving Alone — Without Feeling Lonely

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Thanksgiving for One: 12 Ways to Cope with "Eat Alone" Holidays

Are you facing being alone and dining solo on the biggest family feast day of the year? Instead of feeling lonely and spending this holiday by yourself, there are other ways to think about Thanksgiving food, giving thanks to yourself, and still staying in high spirits.

Here's how to deal with loneliness by making your own Thanksgiving day traditions, and treating yourself to some well deserved time off.

RELATED: How You Can Help Others Overcome Holiday Loneliness (And Spread Joy This Season)

1. Get away.

Contrary to advice saying to ”never eat alone,” a little solitude and self-nurturing, including solo dining, could be just what the doctor ordered. If you can manage it, maybe gifting yourself with a pampering weekend away could be a great recharge. If you can’t get away, consider treating yourself to a movie or just getting in the car and taking a ride to wherever it leads you.

Admittedly, no matter where you are, you can’t get away from yourself. So, if you’re alone on a holiday, you’re likely to feel that way wherever you are. But being alone doesn’t automatically have to equal loneliness and holiday depression. It’s up to you. Change it up and decide to make it a unique experience. 

2. Do something different.

Maybe something you’ve never considered before. Even in the food department. I remember one Thanksgiving working as a healthy chef at a resort spa. I had to work and knew there wasn't going to be any turkey, stuffing or pumpkin pie on that menu.

I had just pulled the homemade whole wheat bread out of the oven and was chopping up a huge batch of fresh garlic. All of a sudden, I spontaneously sliced off a thick slab of that fresh, warm bread, slathered it with a generous swipe of melted butter, and spread finely minced garlic over the entire slice. That was the most memorable Thanksgiving meal I ever ate.

3. Give back to the community.

Giving and receiving create their own neurochemistry, but getting yourself out of your own head and into a service mindset could help shift your biochemistry and your whole frame of mind into feeling more rewarded and satisfied, possibly even grateful for what you do have.

Consider volunteering your time to help serve at a local soup kitchen, visiting kids in an orphanage, or going to see the elderly in a nursing home.

4. Get together with friends.

With so many of us alone, there are likely to be others you know are in the same boat. There usually aren’t many restaurants open on Thanksgiving, but why not organize a potluck dinner for you and your other single friends?

5. Scale back.

Alone or not, you can scale back on your plans for “stuffing” the family or yourself. Even Food Network stars feature scaled down, intimate holiday meals for two, with ground turkey and other variations from the traditional roaster. 

RELATED: There's Nothing Wrong With Having A Small Thanksgiving Dinner

6. Try Cornish hen.

If you do plan to make a meal for yourself, try buying and roasting a small Cornish hen for yourself. If you’re like me, I’d probably make it stretch into two meals. These individual serving hens only take a fast hour to cook, and there’s no stuffing involved.

7. Roast a smaller bird.

Choose one that's less than 10 pounds, and then bone and cut it up, prepping baggies you can put in the freezer for almost-ready meals. And if you make a big pot of soup stock from the bones, you’ll have a soothing evening and broth to freeze for another batch of soup.

8. Cook just one dish.

Pot pies, turkey meatballs, broccoli and turkey divan are other friendlier-to-one alternatives. Of course, you can always just buy a pre-roasted, ready-to-eat chicken or roast a small turkey breast, although most people like the dark meat.

9. Celebrate vegetables.

You could actually try something different and go completely meatless for a change.

The typical Thanksgiving is a cornucopia of harvest vegetables anyway — artichoke dip, baked sweets, garlic mashed potatoes, creamed onions, green bean casserole, baked squash, Brussels sprouts, squash or pumpkin pie. Who really needs or has room for the bird? 

10. Stuff the bird, not yourself.

If food is your addiction, I don’t have to tell you about the treacheries of seasonal holiday sweets. Needless to say, feeling alone and lonely at the holidays certainly could be a trigger for trying to push the pain or lonely holiday feeling away with panetone or spiked eggnog. And making your own meal doesn’t necessarily remove the chance that you will overeat.

Although not feeling so stuffed for one Thanksgiving meal could be a sweet, refreshing change, if you just can’t mobilize or inspire yourself to be of good cheer, eat and drink responsibly, give yourself permission to be and do. Eat, drink, binge — whatever. Flat out, without reservation or remorse.

11. Reflect on thankfulness.

If you shift your focus from the food to reflect upon the full meaning of this special day of grace, you may come to realize that the true meaning of giving doesn’t just mean giving to others. 

Giving to yourself, giving back to yourself, appreciating yourself and allowing yourself to receive the nourishment of love is just as much a part of the circle, and it's the ultimate nourishment we need the most. 

RELATED: Be Thankful All Year Long, Not Just During The Holidays

Nancy Lee Bentley is a dynamic Wholistic Health Expert, visionary new thought leader, professional speaker, author and coach. A champion of sustainability, she has been sowing the seeds of personal and planetary health, making the connections and building the “soil-to-spirit” bridge for over three decades.