The Single Ladies' Holiday Survival Guide

It's tough to be jolly when everyone around you seems to be coupled up.'Tis the season for mistletoe, cute couples clambering aboard horse-drawn carriages for a ride in a snow-dusted park, and fridges covered with holiday pictures of gleeful families. Picture perfect if you're part of a twosome, but when you're single, any one of these cues is all it takes to start crying into your eggnog.

Recognizing that the season can set off the single-girl blues is actually the first step in making everything better, points out Jill Weber, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and author of "Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy." "Being aware of emotional triggers, like, say, seeing your sister with her perfect family, can help you pre-emptively combat them," she says.

Here, some other on-point ways to make the most of the holiday season-and we donot mean making out with your co-worker in the copy room at the holiday office party.

Switch it up. Who says you have to go to Aunt Linda's for the entire Thanksgiving weekend? Are you sure your parents would be devastated if you didn't stop by during Christmas? "A lot of people have very rigid expectations of what they're supposed to do during the holidays," says Weber. "And often, the expectations aren't coming from anyone but themselves." Think about what you want to do most on the holiday. Maybe it's visiting your college roommate, taking a solo trip, or just spending a weekend catching up on "Homeland." "Realizing you have options makes you feel less locked in to a specific plan, even if you do end up following the same traditions as you've done in the past," says Weber.

MORE: The Power of Family Traditions

Get cool stuff on the calendar. Of course, you shouldn't exile yourself from family festivities just because you're single. But if you know that spending a weekend surrounded by your coupled-up cousins or your adorable nieces and nephews may make you feel frustrated and sad, make it a priority to schedule a few solo escapes. Try the new yoga studio in town, schedule a mani-pedi at the local spa, or even look up your favorite French teacher from high school and see if she's up for a tete-a-tete.

Be the grownup. "When you head back home, it's very easy to revert back to a teenager, even if you're in your 20s or 30s," warns Weber. And when you're in your adolescent state of mind, it's even easier to fall into a "my life sucks" funk. To ward off that tendency, act your age. Does your dad always pick you up at the airport? Rent a car this time, so you'll have autonomy to escape whenever you want without asking to borrow the keys. Is Mom always in charge of the meals? Let her know you want to take on an evening of cooking, or else to treating everyone out to dinner at your favorite restaurant. Taking control of what you can will make you stop focusing on the stuff that's out of your control.

MORE: How to Find Love: A Plan

Have your script ready.
Unfortunately, some well-intentioned busybody who shares your DNA will ask about your relationship status at some point. And responses like, "There are no good men left," or, "Everyone I've been on a date with recently has been a jerk," may be mistaken as an invitation to dissect and discuss your love life. To ward off any matchmaking or unwelcome therapy session, change your script to say something to the effect of, "I'm having fun dating around, but right now, I'm really excited about this 60-day yoga challenge I'm trying." If you make it clear your single status is no big deal, your well-meaning relatives should follow suit.

Work it out. Tons of drinking, eating and sitting around with your relatives all day can cause even the most even-keeled person to feel irritable. Aim to get some sort of physical activity every day, even if it's just 20 minutes of solo stretching, suggests Weber. Feeling like you want to jump out of your skin right this second? Try the hand on heart technique, recommends Eudene Harry, M.D., the medical director of Oasis Wellness and Rejuvenation Center in Orlando, Fla., and author of "Anxiety 101: The Holistic Approach to Managing Your Anxiety and Taking Back Your Life." "Place your hand on your heart, close your eyes for a second, and think of someone or something you're grateful for," she says. "Breathe deeply while you're doing it, which will calm down your flight or fight response."

Enjoy your singlehood. You won't be here for long. "Most people do end up coupled up, eventually," reminds Weber. "Knowing your single status is temporary can help you make the most of the time you have now." In other words, you don't have to worry about pleasing your man's folks or dealing with his own holiday hang-ups. And all you have to do is take a look at any of the bickering couples surrounding you in the mall or the airport to know they'd happily change places with you in a heartbeat. So raise a glass to you!

- by Anna Davies