If you're single and not in a romantic relationship, the holiday season can be lonely and depressing.

But it doesn't have to be that way. By taking a few simple steps, you can find happiness and fulfillment instead of emotional stress. Here are five common sense ways to beat the holiday blues.

Get checked

Depression is one of life's most under-reported illnesses. You may think you feel down only because your needs are unmet, but it's very possible your sadness may come from a chemical imbalance in your body. See your doctor well before the holidays and tell her all your symptoms. New anti-depressant medications can make a world of difference. Don't fall for the myth that depression is something to be ashamed of. It's not. Also, be aware that medication may take two to three weeks to improve your well-being, so give it a chance to work.

Get real

All those joyous parties and family reunions you see on TV and in magazine ads? They're largely a fantasy, created to entertain and sell things. If your expectations for holiday fun are unrealistically high, you're bound to be disappointed. You'll enjoy the season much more if you don't expect every day to be a heartwarming, love-filled experience. Many people feel let down because their life doesn't measure up to somebody else's notion of what the holidays should be like. Be realistic. Dial down your expectations and you'll feel more relaxed and satisfied.

Get involved

It may sound like a cliche to say "It's better to give than to receive," but there is a lot of truth in that old saying. Instead of lamenting that you aren't in a relationship and aren't getting special presents from a romantic partner, see what you can do to brighten up someone else's life. Many charities need new toys for children. You'll get a terrific feeling as you shop for them and when you drop them off. Rather than sitting around moping about your disappointment, find an organization where you can volunteer. Getting your mind off yourself and onto helping others will do wonders to raise your spirits.

Get grateful

Often you can turn things around simply by counting your blessings. All of us can find things to be thankful for, if only a steady job and a decent place to live. Ultimately, your happiness during the holidays as well as the rest of the year depends on the attitude you choose--and it is a choice. Besides improving your own disposition, a positive, cheerful attitude will make you more attractive to the opposite sex! There's something intriguing about a person who is confident and upbeat. You'll get invited more places, have more friends, and find more opportunities if you're a positive person who's fun to be around. Some days you may have to force yourself to feel hopeful, but you'll soon find that it's so much more pleasurable than the alternative. Don't expect others to cheer you up. Overhaul your attitude and do it yourself.

Get determined

Sometimes you just have to get fed up enough to say, "That's it! I'm going to do whatever it takes to change things." If you don't want to spend any more holidays alone, get fired up enough to do something about it. Use an online dating service. Tell your matchmaking friends and relatives. Get out more to increase your chances of finding someone to date. Make it your top New Year's resolution to get into a fulfilling relationship. Stop waiting for life to happen to you and be proactive. Assertive people make things happen. If you set a goal and pour all your intelligence and creativity into it, life will suddenly get very exciting. Whether it's a romantic relationship or any other accomplishment, determination and perseverance will eventually make it come to pass.

Author's Bio: 

Jack Zavada helps people thrive in the single life through his web site www.inspiration-for-singles.com