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Coach, writer, consultant. Founder of the Living Well Alone Project

I used to think New Year was all about traditions that involved other people. Going out, parties, dinners, eating too much, drinking champagne at midnight, watching fireworks. Talking late into the night until you all fell asleep on someone’s sofa.

Until one year when plans just didn’t come together in time. I was dreading it — wasn’t there something wrong about spending New Year alone? In the end, I had an amazing time. And it was a relief not having to plan, or to travel on packed trains. …

Being alone at Christmas isn’t everyone’s first choice, and there is still shame attached to being by yourself. People who would never previously have spent Christmas alone are facing it down for the first time ever this year, in record numbers. This is daunting enough — and what none of us need at the moment is the judgement of other people. If you’re struggling to know what to say to someone facing a solo Christmas, this handy guide will help.

What not to say

Here’s what not to say, as overheard by my mother in a queue at her local shop the other day…

When Susan moved house, she never realised it would mean planning for a family Christmas without one of her children. Her daughter lives near her in a town where Covid rates are low. But her son Toby lives in London where Covid rates are soaring. Toby wants to travel to Susan’s for Christmas. While Susan loves him and wants to see him, she’s not comfortable putting herself or her other child at risk. Susan knows Toby has friends in London he can spend the day with. But she also knows he will be heartbroken about spending Christmas without his family.

A couple of nights ago I was up late burning the midnight oil and felt a serious case of the munchies coming on. Some cupboard raiding followed, and I honestly think I would’ve eaten anything at that point. Luckily I know myself well enough to know not to keep chocolate and biscuits in the house…

Even though I love how productive I feel when I get up early, when I’m left to my own devices I’m definitely more of a night owl. And as all true night owls know, there comes a point late in the evening, long after dinner…

In September I posted ‘5 Steps to a Surprisingly Happy Solo Birthday’ and had a lot of lovely feedback. With Thanksgiving (in the US) Hannukah and Christmas just around the corner, it felt like the right time to do the same for these other festive milestones. I’ve avoided an exhaustive ‘how to,’ as there’s plenty of that online. However I do think there are a few things worth bearing in mind as you go into the holiday season.

  1. It’s okay to do what suits you.

There can be so much pressure around Christmas and other holidays — pressure to celebrate…

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What’s the best thing about living alone?

When asked, I used to say ‘I can eat ice cream whenever I want!’ Lately I’ve been trying to come up with more grown up ways to respond to that question — but I’ve realised in writing this piece that it’s actually a simple and fun way to describe what many would say is the most fulfilling aspect of living alone.

When asked, people who live alone overwhelming say that ‘freedom’ is the most positive aspect of a solo life. This can…

Solo living is on the rise — but it’s not a lifestyle that everyone understands. In fact, there are probably more misperceptions about living alone than any other lifestyle, even though it’s an increasingly common way to live.

That means we spend a lot of time explaining ourselves. We’ll probably smile and answer your questions politely — but it can sometimes feel like having the same conversation over and over again.

The joy of running a blog and an online community, is being able to set the record straight. …

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Lockdown has been different for each of us — and has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives.

Last week, I wrote about the importance of learning the lessons from lockdown to roll forward for when things start to go back to some sort of normality. Having written about it, I thought it only right to actually do that reflection myself. So I did — and here are the lockdown lessons I’ve learnt.

I wouldn’t wear make up in a world where I didn’t have to see other people

I also wouldn’t shave various body parts as often as…

Lockdown restrictions are easing in some parts of the world, and for some that’s a welcome relief. I’m personally grateful that my favourite coffee shop is open, and that the independent shops in my local town have a chance to make some money again. But — as an asthmatic — I’m also cautious about my own health, and I don’t want to move too fast, too soon.

Invariably, everyone has a different answer to the question of how to leave lockdown safely. A close friend has a far higher risk tolerance level than I do — since shops, cafes and…

What it’s Really Like to Live Alone During the Lockdown (from People who Know)

The coronavirus crisis is affecting us all in different ways, and one group we’re hearing about a lot at the moment are people who live alone.

With similarities to annual Christmas campaigns, much of the coverage is concerned, lovely and well-intended. And important — it’s critical that those who are struggling with the effects of isolation & loneliness are able to access support when they need it, particularly where they are vulnerable. …

Hannah Carmichael

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