A Dozen Don’ts for December and Beyond

I’ve shared lots of dos in the past to help people live alone with more success. Here are a few don’ts — some lighthearted — that may also help you on your journey toward contentment as you approach the New Year:

• Don’t become a hermit. Get up, get dressed, lose the PJs or sweat pants, and get out of the house (or get on the phone). We humans are social animals; we’re meant to be with others. Solitary confinement is for criminals, not for people who live alone. Stay connected!

• Don’t go on a shopping spree to fill an emotional void. Your savings account will thank you.

• Don’t make Fruit Loops your main course for dinner. Well … maybe on occasion. But as a general rule? No. Create a nice place setting, fill your plate with something healthy, light a candle, pour yourself a glass of wine or cranberry juice, and enjoy some well-deserved time to yourself. A favorite magazine, book, or crossword puzzle can make for a nice dining companion. Bon appetite!

• Don’t label yourself a loser just because you are spending a Saturday night alone. It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t define you. Stream a Netflix movie or clear some clutter and call it a night. If the prospect of a Friday or Saturday night alone is too difficult, reach out to a friend today and make plans for next weekend.

• Don’t put too much stock in that Dreamcatcher. If you find yourself wide awake in the middle of night fighting demons, you might try meditation, journaling or aromatherapy. I fill my diffuser with lavender oil and do some deep breathing while I repeat the phrase, “Sleep is healing.” If that doesn’t do the trick, I get up and prepare myself some warm milk or herbal tea. I return to bed with fingers crossed and eyes closed. If all else fails, consider sleep aids.

• Don’t avoid dancing lessons because you don’t have a partner. Good teachers know how to incorporate singles into their classes by making introductions or by partnering with single members to demonstrate steps. Lucky you!

• Don’t jump into someone’s arms out of loneliness. Feelings of desperation can make you easy prey for a “suitor” with dubious intentions. It’s a risky place to be. Getting good at living alone will build your self-esteem and improve your chances of meeting someone who appreciates your strengths, not your weaknesses.

• Don’t get behind the wheel after a night of drowning your sorrows with friends. No explanation needed. Drink and drive responsibly.

• Don’t be afraid to travel alone.   Some of my best trips have been taken with my favorite traveling companion: myself. I create my own itinerary, go at my own pace, and meet all kinds of interesting people along the way.
Even a small jaunt can boost your confidence. On your own, you’ll discover your own resourcefulness, ability to solve problems, and capacity to spend some time alone. It can be an enlightening adventure in self-discovery. I highly recommend it.

• Don’t decline an invitation because it means walking in (and walking out) alone. You can do it. Make a beeline for the host to say “hello” and ask for an introduction to someone, if you are surrounded by strangers. Or get in line at the refreshment station. You’ll be engaged in conversation before you know it. Be yourself, be sincere, and be curious about others. Go and have fun!

• Don’t act your age. You are free, unencumbered and on your own. What better time to spread your wings, be silly and otherwise express your glorious, awesome self. Put yourself with people who make you laugh. For me, that’s my sister Anne. So keep your sense humor. After all, life can be funny.

• Don’t take these don’ts too seriously. You are in the best position to decide what to do or not to do — no shoulds, musts, or other people’s agendas. That’s one of the best benefits of living alone.  Don’t I know it!

Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Live Alone and Thrive, empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon, New York. For information about her workshops or to invite her to speak, call 585-624-7887, or email gvoelckers@rochester.rr.com.