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Christmas time loneliness

Managing loneliness during the holiday period

This page added 25th November 2017

Christmas decorations for sale in shops, advertisements for Christmas gifts, Christmas puddings and Panetonnes in supermarkets. These are all signs that it is getting towards the end of the year and that Christmas time is just around the corner.

Whilst many of us look forward to this time, some feel a sense of loneliness or worry mixed in with their joy. According to surveys, around 1 in 4 of us report feeling lonely during the holiday season. Here we share the reasons for why you may be feeling lonely at Christmas time and ways to cope with it.

Reasons for Christmas time loneliness

The Christmas period is portrayed as a time for social gatherings and shared rituals amongst family and friends. The media depicts the holidays as a time for endlessly happy family gatherings, with many on social media sharing happy snaps of their “perfect” partners and families. This can be upsetting for those whose families do not fit the traditional family mold due to differing circumstances often beyond our control, such as deaths, divorces and geographical separation.

Christmas time also has a way of bringing up the past, making us compare current holidays to previous ones. This can be a positive experience if your past holidays were happy. For some however, their memories of this time are sad or traumatic and may lead to feelings of loneliness if these wounds haven’t been healed.

Coping with loneliness

It is crucial when trying to cope with Christmas loneliness to assess any unrealistic expectations you may have about what everyone else is doing and how you should be feeling. Practice mindfulness and try and be present rather than worrying about what may happen in the future. There are things that we can all do to minimise these feelings and bring a sense of personal fulfilment during the Christmas period.

Steps to manage loneliness this Christmas

First, recognise your loneliness instead of denying it: your feelings are real. Consider talking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. You may even find out that someone you know is feeling similar emotions.

Anticipate times where you may feel lonely and make a plan to help yourself feel more connected to those around you. Reconnect with someone you may have lost contact with, or plan your own social event and invite others to it. Often when we feel lonely we can become quite negative about whether or not other people would want to spend time with us and so this makes us withdraw further away from them. By doing this, the feeling of loneliness intensifies, therefore it is important to avoid isolating yourself during Christmas time

Consider reaching out and donating some of your time to helping others less fortunate than yourself. Volunteering is a wonderful way to feel a sense of usefulness in the community, whilst also giving you the chance to connect with others and perhaps even give you a greater perspective.

Give gifts to those around you. Gift-giving is one of the most infamous activities during the Christmas period and for good reason. Seeing the surprise and then happiness on someone else’s face when they receive your gift will in turn make you feel happier and more connected to others.

Find a different way to celebrate the Christmas period if being at home or attending certain family events are sources of discomfort. Perhaps plan a trip away or attend a community event instead.

Practice self-care in this often stressful time. Try and get plenty of rest and eat nourishing and healthy foods, get a massage, call a friend or take a bubble bath. Do whatever helps to bring you comfort and relaxation.

Finally, practice gratitude. There is a lot to feel grateful for when you focus your attention and reflect on what you do have. It is easy to succumb to the commercial and financial pressures that Christmas time can bring, by comparing what you can afford with what others have. Instead, focus on what and who you are grateful for in your own life and set aside a little time each day to remind yourself of the blessings in your life.

Written by Alicia, ADAVIC Volunteer

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