The holiday season is normally filled with lots of cheer, joy, and love. During this time of year, socialization kicks into high gear with commitments to attend holiday parties and to spend time with families and friends.
However, for others, the holidays are the loneliest time of the year.
Not everyone has close friends and family. Some people live too far from family to gather with them, or others have no family to gather with – either by choice or due to family conflict. According to a study, 58 percent of “Americans often felt like no one in their life knew them well.”
Taking time for yourself during the holidays is not unhealthy on its own. However, too much alone time can lead to negative emotions and feelings of isolation.
Here are some ways to cope with loneliness during this holiday season:
Be kind to yourself. This can include indulging in the newest binge-worthy show, taking yourself out to a place you haven’t visited yet like a new restaurant or museum, or just curling up with a good book. Although it may not completely rid you of your feelings of loneliness, taking care of yourself can help you feel better and enjoy your alone time more.
Connect with others. Go out of your way to be friendly. Say hello to your neighbors, engage in friendly chatter with your co-workers, or pick up the phone and call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Reaching out to people can help you feel more connected and less lonely.
Cultivate gratitude. It’s easy to focus on what you don’t have when you’re feeling lonely. Instead, concentrating on what you do have – even the smallest thing – can make a difference and shift your attention away from harmful negative thoughts. Consider investing in a gratitude journal and using it often as a way to reflect and write down those things you’re grateful for.
Reimagine the holidays. Movies romanticize the holidays with their meet-cutes and idyllic storylines. This sets up high expectations for the rest of us who live in the real world. It’s okay to do something different. What brings you joy? What would your ideal day look like? Let those answers guide you into creating the type of holiday that you want and not what others expect.
Give to others. One of the best ways to feel less lonely during the holidays is to donate your time to a cause. Helping others can make you feel loved and grateful. Giving your time will allow you to immerse yourself in the true spirit of the holiday season.
Examine your feelings. If you suspect that your loneliness is more than the seasonal blues, you may want to consider trying to figure out what is at the root of your loneliness – either on your own or by speaking with a therapist. Once you have a better understanding of why you’re feeling lonely, you can then start to make changes to alleviate your loneliness.
From everyone at Turning Point Mental Health Center, have a safe and joyous holiday season and new year. We look forward to helping you in 2023!