Health and Wellness Associates
How to Cope with Loneliness During the Holiday Season
Tips to make your holidays brighter when you feel alone
Christmas evokes images of green and red for many. But for those suffering from loneliness, the holiday blues are also a very real thing.
Loneliness is common during the holidays. When we feel there is an expectation is to experience extreme joy or happiness, feelings of sadness and loneliness can strike even harder.
Whether you’re feeling alone or you want to be there for those around you, understanding what causes loneliness, as well as how to minimize it, can make your holidays much more joyful.
Feeling lonely doesn’t mean you don’t have friends, family or loved ones who care. In fact, it’s very possible to feel lonely while having a loving support system in tow.
Some studies have called loneliness a disease, and others have called it a “hidden killer” of the elderly. While there are many studies on loneliness, there is no exact definition.
Loneliness is a subjective feeling. It can refer to a state of solitude, as well as the perception of feeling alone. While loneliness is a universal human emotion, it amplifies is different ways. Lonely people often dread the holidays, because of the perception that everyone around them is experiencing human connection in a way that they are not.
Examples of groups that tend to experience this more than others include those who are recently single, divorced or widowed, those who live far from family, and those who stay emotionally distant from others. Studies have shown that adults under age 30 tend to experience significantly higher levels of loneliness than other age groups, though those ages 80 and older can experience high levels as well.
How to beat loneliness during the holidays
One thing that is agreed upon is that there are ways to overcome loneliness. However, because these ways tend to involve emotional risk, many are slow to adopt them. Whether you’re feeling alone or you are in solitude, here are some tips to use this holiday season:
Tips to overcome loneliness when you feel alone
- Practice self-care. While you may be thinking about giving gifts to others this season, don’t hesitate to give yourself the gift of a spa treatment, invest in a hobby, or other activities that will get you to socialize and enjoy the season. Taking your focus off feeling alone can help curb the feeling.
- Choose the right people to surround yourself with. When you’re lonely, it may be tempting to call up your friend who loves to co-commiserate. But because loneliness is contagious, you won’t be doing yourself any favors. Choose to surround yourself with positive people.
- Pursue gratitude. Whether you prefer journaling, meditation or prayer, taking the time to write or say what you’re thankful for can shift your attention away from what you don’t have, and spotlight what you do have. Always remember that thankfulness is a choice.
Tips to overcome loneliness when you are alone
- Be vulnerable. If you’re waiting for your neighbor to be the first to say hello, take the risk and say hi first. Call a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while, or learn more about that person you always take a fitness class next to. Remembering that we’re all seeking human connection can take the pressure off the situation.
- Give back. Helping others who have less than we do often reminds us of all we have to be thankful for. Bonus: you may meet some volunteers who have similar interests to you, and are open to helping others.
- Release your expectations. In the age of social media, it’s easy to think the holidays are supposed to look as perfect as a Christmas card. Rethinking your expectations can stop you from playing the comparison game, at which point you may realize you have plenty to be thankful for.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is never convenient or easy, but it may be just the thing you need this holiday season.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr Mark Williams