The holiday season can be a tough time for people who are feeling lonely. If you're struggling to cope, here are some suggestions to help you get through it.
According to a Harvard report, 36% of Americans face profound loneliness. This is not surprising when you consider that modern life can be quite isolating. We spend most of our time working or staring at screens, and we often don't have the opportunity to interact with others on a deep level. The COVID-19 pandemic made things worse, shutting down regular events and physically isolating most of us for months.
If you're struggling with loneliness during the holiday season, you're not alone. It's common to feel isolated and disconnected during this time of year. Here's our guide to how to cope with loneliness during the holiday season.
Understand That Loneliness Is a Common Feeling During the Holidays
When we're feeling lonely, it can be tempting to beat ourselves up for not being social enough or having no close friends. But it's important to remember that loneliness is a perfectly normal emotion. The holiday season, in particular, can be a time of loneliness and isolation. If you find yourself feeling lonely during this time of year, know that you aren't alone. There are many reasons why the holidays can be difficult for many people. Maybe you're grieving the loss of a loved one. Or perhaps you're living far away from your family and friends. Maybe you just don't have anyone to celebrate with.
Face Your Feelings
One key step is to face your feelings head-on. Acknowledge that you're feeling lonely, and allow yourself to feel sad, angry, or frustrated. This is a helpful first step because being open and honest about your emotions can help you feel more in control. On the flip side, bottling up emotions can make them feel overwhelming.
Share Your Feelings
Once you've acknowledged your feelings, sharing them with someone else can be helpful. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about what you're going through. Or, if you don't feel comfortable talking to someone you know, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor. This can be an extremely helpful way to process your emotions and develop coping mechanisms. And, if you're looking for people to spend time with, sharing your feelings can be a great way to find others in a similar situation. Making a concerted effort to connect with those around you can help reduce feelings of isolation and create lasting relationships.
Do Something Nice for Others
One of the best ways to combat loneliness is to focus on others. When feeling alone, we often focus on our problems and forget the needs of those around us. Doing something for someone else can help take the focus off of your loneliness and make you feel more connected to others. Consider volunteering at a local soup kitchen or helping deliver holiday meals to those in need. You can also write a letter of appreciation to a friend, family member, or even stranger.
Spend Time With Animals
It's no secret that spending time with animals can make you happy. Dogs and cats provide companionship and relieve stress, but other animals can have a similar effect. Horses, for example, are often used in therapy to help people with anxiety and depression. Even small creatures like rabbits and guinea pigs can provide comfort and joy. However, you don't need to own a cuddle bunny to benefit from their company. There are plenty of ways to get involved with animal welfare, such as volunteering at a local shelter or becoming a foster parent.
Take Care of Yourself
It's also essential to take care of yourself during this time. Make sure to eat healthy meals, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. Consider adding relaxation techniques to your routine, such as yoga or meditation. Spend time doing things that make you happy, whether listening to music, reading, watching movies, or spending time in nature.
Get Organized and Make Plans
How to cope with loneliness during the holiday season? Another approach is to plan out your days and weeks so you have something to look forward to each day. This can help you feel more purposeful and prevent you from feeling like you're just going through the motions. To get started, write down how you want to feel and what activities could make you feel that way. Then, print out a calendar and have fun filling it in with everything you want to do. You can also use this as an opportunity to try new things and expand your horizons.
Seek Professional Help If the Loneliness Is Severe and Persistent
Loneliness is a feeling we all experience from time to time. But for some people, it's a constant companion. If you find yourself constantly feeling lonely, even when people surround you, it may be time to seek professional help. Loneliness can be a symptom of many underlying issues, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma. If left untreated, it can seriously affect your mental and physical health. If you're struggling to cope with loneliness, please don't hesitate to seek help. There are trained professionals who can support you in finding ways to cope with your feelings and start to feel better.
Loneliness is a universal experience, but that doesn't mean there's a single solution for how to cope with loneliness that will work for everyone. The best way to overcome loneliness is to experiment until you find what works best for you.