How to manage loneliness during the holiday season
Do you look forward to the holiday season? Or is it a time where you find yourself overcome with loneliness?
Feeling lonely at this time of year is actually quite common. While most people look upon the holidays with joy and excitement, for others it can often create feelings of disconnection and isolation.
If you have experienced a recent loss, such as death, divorce, or your grown children have fled the nest, the sense of loneliness can be intensified. It’s also common to feel this way if you don’t have family, if your family lives far away, or you’ve become estranged.
Memories of past trauma or childhood difficulties can also resurface during this time of the year.
Whatever your situation, all of these factors can lead to additional stressors and loneliness.
There is a lot of pressure from society to be happy and sociable throughout the holiday season, especially around Christmas and New Year gatherings. This pressure is often heightened by social media and our environment, where we see a flurry of party photos or hear constant chatter about everyone’s plans.
If you’ve previously experienced and/or are concerned about feeling lonely and isolated this holiday season, here are some suggestions that can help.
5 ways to manage loneliness during the holiday season
1. Acknowledge how you feel
It’s important to remember your feelings are normal emotional responses to your own personal situation and/or life experiences. You can allow yourself the time to acknowledge and feel those feelings, but then give yourself permission to separate from them.
Once we acknowledge how we feel and where it stems from, we are often in a better position to start taking steps towards reducing our worries and distress.
2. Be kind to yourself
The most important thing to remember is to look after yourself during this time of year. While it can be difficult to get motivated when you’re on your own and/or feeling lonely, practising self-care as part of your daily routine can be valuable in managing your low mood.
You can try one or more of the following:
• Going for a short walk
• Reading a good book
• Enjoying a hobby
• Practising breathing exercises and/or meditation
• Getting adequate sleep / taking a nap
• Watching a funny show / movie
Read more in my blog about the importance of self-care here.
3. Seek Connection
When feeling lonely and isolated, you might find yourself avoiding others and/or social situations. However, this is the time when it’s even more important to seek connection! Try to engage in events where possible and reach out to friends and family members who are likely to offer the support you need. If there is a particular day or days you are more concerned about, try to plan or book something in advance as it’s more likely to alleviate further stressors and/or loneliness on the actual day.
There are some simple steps you can take, including:
• Saying ‘hello’ to your neighbours
• Striking up conversations with colleagues
• Calling an old friend
• Messaging people you haven’t seen in a long time and make plans to catch up
• Signing up to a class
• Volunteering to help the less fortunate
4. Get plenty of sleep
When you’re sleep deprived, feelings of loneliness can run wild. You might be struggling to fall asleep or waking frequently through the night due to worrying thoughts or dealing with grief. Without good quality sleep, your mood, immunity, and energy levels are likely to be affected, so try some different sleep strategies to see what works.
Read my blog ‘8 tips for getting a good night’s sleep when stressed’ for more ideas.
5. Be mindful of social media
If festive photos shared by friends and family on social media are making you upset, it would be ideal to limit your time spent online. As it was once said by Pastor Steve Furtick, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” So don’t assume their lives are perfect. You don’t know what’s really going on in their lives, unless you reach out and connect.
Be honest with yourself and how you feel about social media during the holiday period. If it makes you feel worse, then don’t add unnecessary salt to the wound.
While the above strategies may not necessarily change your situation, having a plan and focusing on areas that are within your control can help reduce your sense of loneliness and distress through this difficult time of the year.
If you’re still struggling with loneliness, please reach out to me for a FREE 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation and find out how I can help.
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If you need counselling support, contact Kylie Lepri for a FREE 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation and find out how she can help. Call us now on 0404 032636 or book your free phone call online.
Kylie Lepri is a registered Psychotherapist, Marriage & Relationship Counsellor, Clinical Supervisor, and Training Consultant. Since 2003 she has helped individuals and couples work through life stressors, develop new goals and create better relationships. Get Kylie’s FREE ebook: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter here.