A version of this article was first published last year, and it is still very relevant for each Christmas holiday period, with some current link updates.

I hope these few paragraphs will help you successfully navigate the Christmas holidays and any period where you may find yourself home alone. To quote the Blues Brothers: please remember people, that no matter who you are, and what you do to live, thrive and survive, there are still some things that make us all the same. You, me, them, everybody, everybody.

Step #1 – Do not panic.  Over thinking can cause our brains to pop out and when that happens, we really are in a mess. It’s likely the thought of a lonely Christmas could be far worse than the actual event.  Technically it’s just a Sunday this year. And you’ve survived all of the Sundays so far so you’re obviously doing something right. I think Country File on TV was created specifically for this purpose.

Step #2 – Prepare your mind. Alone or lonely? Yes this has the potential to be a lonely time if your biological family is geographically dispersed, or you don’t socialise, or you’re single (unexpectedly or would prefer not to be), and your friends (your most excellent non biological family) are tied up or loved up. And you don’t even have a cat. Or a plant. But this is a great opportunity to approach your thinking differently this year. With excitement, maybe even wonder.  Work with me on this…Cue Johnny: I Won’t Back Down. This is more poignant given Tom Petty went to the big rock band in the sky this year.

Step #3 – Time by yourself is your friend. Your friends like you, so it’s a fair guess that you’re fun to be around. It just means on this occasion you had no play buddies. Full stop. Make yourself a list of things you *really* want to do but you are always putting them off due to lack of time, motivation, maybe cold hard cash. How many times have you or someone you know said “I’d give my right arm (no disability pun intended) to spend Christmas by myself away from the family”.  You have the luxury of peace and space, a rare commodity in most of our daily lives. This is a good thing. Repeat. You cannot buy peace of mind and quiet time if you are hosting at Christmas, this is why people drink lots, have a huge family row and then cry over the washing up. Make the most of the stillness. Or super loud music, whichever way you want to go. You can literally do what you want. Maybe ice skating for wheelchair users.  I swear my neighbour loves Johnny Cash as much as I do. Cue Johnny: I Walk The Line

Step #4 – Prepare your grotto. If you don’t do glitter that is totally cool. If you like a bit of bling this is your chance to totally go all out tinsel whore.  It doesn’t matter if you decorate or not, it’s your place to do as your please.  I would suggest you get the chores out of the way at the first opportunity so you are in a clean environment for your days off and don’t have to break the flow of freedom. Also you’re worth it, and deserve a clean pad. And you may get a guest, who knows?

Step #5 – Mood food.  This is not the time to scrimp on quality food, it is a special occasion, a well deserved break. Treat yourself as you would your buddies, buy the loveliest food you can and use all of your best cutlery and crockery. Actually use them everyday. Yes everyday. And don’t forget dessert. For every day. Trust me, you’ll thank me. Regarding alcohol, this is a personal choice but IMHO is wasted calories and a mood depressant if you are a little fragile. You wouldn’t hurt a kitten so don’t be mean to yourself. And if you get upset, sit with it, then let it pass. It happens so try to accept it as part of being human. Then take a deep breath and fix your make up. Cue Johnny: Hurt. Fix your makeup again.

Step #6 – Buy yourself a gift. It could be a new outfit (in black, of course), that hardback book you have been pawing over, some amazing perfume, or an online course.  It doesn’t matter what it is, just that it’s special to you. I have a dozen mechanical pencils on my list…Maybe I do need to get out more.  Cue Johnny: A Thing Called Love

Step #7 – Comms.  Say hi to the people who are important to you, pick up the phone and go retro. You may be the only person that they speak to all day. Send messages and emails, Skype, stay connected if you want to. Even the grinchiest human has a heart and will appreciate a message. Even though they may never say it.  If you are isolated in your grotto, a brief chat will lift your spirits. The caveat here is making contact with an old love, be prepared for the fall out, if they respond (and your emotions run high then crash) or do not respond at all. It’s a tough call, just know your motivations and be gentle with yourself if you do proceed. Or get involved on Twitter #joinin with Sarah Millican

Step #8 – Give thanks. You may not see your neighbours often but if you rock up with a small bunch of flowers (two for a fiver in many places), it’s a simple way of saying hello and wishing them well.  And give thanks when you wake up and go to bed. A thank you Buddha for looking after me today, goes a long way.  You can thank the universe or a deity of your choosing, the important thing is to regularly acknowledge the good things you have going on. Cue Johnny: A Boy Named Sue

Step #9 – Be kind to yourself. Avoid head trash and always repair your thoughts immediately if you find yourself in a pattern of negative phrases. You would not let your friend berate her/himself so do not tolerate yourself doing it. Recognise and put it right, until you only say the uplifting and compassionate things to yourself naturally. Avoid the TV news as it never shows anything happy. If it’s that important you’ll see it online or someone will let you know aliens have taken over. Actually that has already happened. Avoid any crappy Christmas films if it makes you feel worse. That Darcy geezer is seriously overrated, you can do better. Kindness can be your super power. Cue Johnny:  Heart of Gold

Step #10 – Live, thrive and survive. You could actually enjoy it, maybe a lot. Go with the flow, even it leads to the fridge once in a while or a small (or big) sob. Volunteer, accept invites, people are amazing and if they know you’re free it’s likely people will be up for a huddle. Give out invites, you might get a yes from that hottie you’ve been thinking of. Wander, daydream, breathe. Maybe listen to a bit of Bruce: Mary’s Place. Before you know it the holiday season will be complete and you will have rested, recharged and survived in style.

Everybody needs somebody to love, and this includes yourself. Jake and Elwood speak the truth.