Navigating Loneliness During the Holiday Season
The holiday season brings amazing opportunities to celebrate with friends and family, share your love for others, and give back to your community. The holiday season can also be a challenging time of year. Whether you are going through a breakup, are recently divorced, have been single for some time, or have experienced a loss, the holidays can bring up negative feelings about being alone. However, with proper planning and preparation, you can tackle this time of year head-on instead of letting it get the best of you. To ensure that the period from Thanksgiving through New Year's is as stress-free as possible, incorporate these strategies into your routine:
Build a Shifting Ritual
Whether you plan to host a holiday gathering or simply be part of a large family event, developing a shifting ritual can help keep you feeling grounded in the moment. If you are planning to host a gathering, take exceptional care to make sure all your guests feel welcome and acknowledged. If you are attending a large event, such as a multi-family meal, be sure to carve out time for yourself to reflect and be alone with your thoughts. When attending family events, make sure to put your physical and emotional well-being first. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, create a straightforward way to excuse yourself from the situation. You can always use “I need a breather” or “I need to get some fresh air” as an easy excuse to get away for a few minutes, and then you can return to the gathering refreshed and ready to engage again.
Don’t Shame Yourself
If you’re feeling down or depressed around the holidays, remember these feelings don’t make you a bad person. You may be feeling this way because you’re disconnected from your loved ones or don’t have enough quality time with friends. Or you may be feeling this way because you’re missing your partner or spouse who’s no longer in your life. Whatever the cause, these feelings are normal and can happen to anyone, single or partnered alike. To combat these feelings, you can try the following strategies:
- Reach out to family and friends. Most people want to help if they know you need it. This can be especially helpful if you’re feeling lonely or disconnected from others.
- Get creative. Find an outlet for your feelings, like poetry, art, or music.
- Join a support group. Talking with others who understand how you’re feeling can help.
- Plan a solo activity if you’re feeling disconnected from others. Solo activities can be anything from visiting a museum or exploring nature to baking a cake or reading a book.
Stay in Touch with Family
Whatever you do with your larger family, there are always ways to stay in touch with your immediate family members. You might want to send a short holiday card to your parents, siblings, or cousins. If you live close enough, you could also invite them over to your house for a meal. If you don’t have as much time to spend with family as you’d like, you could offer to do some gift shopping for people on their behalf. You could also offer to help organize family events, like a gift exchange or holiday meal. If you’re feeling alienated from your family, you can always make an effort to repair the relationship. Try writing a letter explaining how you’re feeling and what you’d like to get out of your relationship. Then, give them space to respond at their own pace.
Join a Volunteer Group or Cause You Care About
The holiday season is a wonderful time to be involved in volunteer work. Find an organization or cause that you care about and that fits your schedule. You might want to consider a group that serves people in your community, such as a food bank, holiday clothing drive, or family-friendly event. Or you could look for an organization that serves people in other countries, such as a group that provides gifts for children in war-torn areas. Regardless of which group you choose to volunteer with, you’ll walk away feeling more connected to your community and have some amazing holiday memories. If you have young children, you may also want to consider volunteering with a group that serves families with young children, as this can be a wonderful way to get your kids involved in the spirit of giving.
While the holiday season is a wonderful time of year to connect others, it’s important to remember that if you’re feeling disconnected or depressed around the holidays, these feelings don’t make you a bad person. In fact, they may be a sign that you need more support in your life. You can combat shame by reaching out to family and friends, going solo, and joining a volunteer group or cause you care about. The holiday season offers opportunities to share your love for others and give back to your community. With proper planning and preparation, you can navigate the season head-on and have a wonderful time celebrating with friends, family, your community, or yourself.
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