10 Ways to Handle Loneliness during Holiday Season

Sheltering in place and being in quarantine over these past eight months has caused some people to experience loneliness like never before.

Now, to be clear, loneliness is not something that is exclusive to those who are “single” or those who live alone.  A person can be surrounded by people and still experience loneliness.  A person can be in quarantine with a house full of people and still feel lonely.  

In fact, Psychology Today has an article about loneliness.  Per Psychology Today,
“loneliness is the state of distress or discomfort that results when one perceives a gap between one’s desires for social connection and actual experiences of it.”

Many people who are lonely have a desire to feel connected with others but various circumstances can limit this.  Some of these circumstances include being in a new environment, feeling odd and presently, being in a pandemic and having to stay in place for the safety and well-being of self and others.  

Yet, over time, being lonely and isolated can have major impacts on an individual.   
According to Cigna, “long term feelings of loneliness and social isolation can also reduce cognitive skills, such as the ability to concentrate, make decisions, problem-solve, and even change negative self-beliefs.”  In essence, loneliness can disrupt a person’s mental health, lead to mental illness or impact an individual’s ability to function.  Thus, it is important to identify ways to deal with loneliness.  

Here are ten ways to handle feelings of loneliness during the holiday season:  

  • Mail a card to someone who needs a word of encouragement. You could either send a card via snail mail or send an email to someone to let them know that you are thinking about them. Or, if possible, pick up the phone and call the person.
  • Practice self-care. Find ways to nurture yourself and enjoy your time with yourself. This could be journaling, taking a bubble bath, reading a book, baking, etc.
  • Organize an activity via video-conferencing service Zoom announced that it will lift its 40 minute limit for its free service on Thanksgiving day.  You could have karaoke, play trivia, family feud or some other type of activity with your family.  (I’m planning karaoke with some of my cousins.)
  • Practice gratitude. Think about and write down things that you are grateful for.  As you reflect on what is going well in your life, your mood will lift.  
  • Stay off social media. If knowing how other people are spending their holiday is too much for you, you might want to limit your time on social media.  
  • Use the time to be creative This can be a time to create a vision board.  Write out some affirmations.  Write some blog posts.  Rearrange your furniture. 
  • Talk to someone about it.  Call a friend, reach out to crisis line or connect with a therapist during this time.  Talking to someone about what you are dealing with can help to release the burden and remind you that you are not alone. 
  • Exercise.  Go for a walk in your neighborhood or a local park.  
  • Invite yourself to someone else’s gathering with their friends or family. If someone who you know well is having a virtual gathering, ask to be a part of it. There are some people who don’t mind having others be a part of their planned gatherings. Ask and see. (I’ve done this before in person and people were glad to have me crash their gathering.)
  • Allow yourself to feel lonely but don’t sulk.  Its ok to acknowledge the feeling that you are feeling but don’t sulk in it.  Decide how you want to spend your day.  Thanksgiving is one day.  You will still have a life to live after this day.  When this day is over, how would you have hoped that it turned out?  Focus on doing what will help to align you with feeling your best self.  

Do you know of someone who might enjoy some of these tips?  Feel free to share this with them!

What tips do you have for combating loneliness during the holiday season? 

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