All around the world, the holidays are a time of warmth, cheer, and togetherness. Yet, for many people, it’s not uncommon to feel alone during this time. While some look forward to celebrating the holidays, there are many out there who actually dread the season.
While there are numerous reasons why someone might not be fond of celebrating the holidays — family and loved ones are far away, stressful relatives, familial rifts, illness, the loss of a loved one, or maybe even distressing childhood memories — one thing is for certain: the holidays don’t have to be all bad. There are many ways in which we can change our perspective and make the holiday season, if not joyous, then, at the very least, tolerable.
Below is a list of some things to keep in mind if you’re struggling with feelings of loneliness this holiday season.
1. Accept how you feel.
It never does us any good to sit in denial or to ignore our feelings. They’ll only keep resurfacing. Being mindful about our feelings, exploring the reasons why we feel this way–especially with regards to feelings of sadness, guilt or anger–is much more helpful when trying to get past them. It helps to reflect on these feelings of loneliness, to see them for what they are: just feelings. They’re momentary and fleeting, no matter how often they come up, and they will soon pass.
2. Lower your expectations.
The holiday season is what people have made it. The hustle and bustle come from many years of society pushing an idea of what sort of things need to happen this time of year. People all over the world are rushing to meet these expectations. But the tree, the decorations, the shopping, the food, is all derived from a manufactured idea. It helps to remember that you have no need to meet these expectations yourself. Underneath all the twinkling lights, carols, and presents, life goes on just as normal, just as it will come January 2nd. So don’t get caught up in the storm. Lower your expectations, stay realistic, and things should become a lot more bearable.
3. Reach out to someone.
One of the worst things you can do when you’re feeling alone is to isolate yourself. It can be tempting to become angry at the world when it feels like there’s no one there for you. It helps to remember these thoughts are only inside your head. Reach out to a close friend or a family member. You can even reach out to someone online if those aren’t options for you. There are tons of people going through these same feelings of loneliness at the same time every year. The internet has been very helpful in connecting these people. In doing so, it has helped them find a sort of refuge and, consequently, helped them feel less alone. If these feelings of loneliness are persistent throughout the year it would also help to consider seeking professional help from a licensed therapist.
Studies have shown that giving and volunteering does wonders for our mental and physical health. So if you’re feeling alone this holiday season, why not challenge those feelings by heading out to a local soup kitchen, a church, or a local organization that helps at-risk youths. You’ll be surrounded by people, and the feeling of helping out will remind you that the world is so much bigger than anything happening at Christmas time. It’ll give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment that will certainly help vanquish any negative feelings you’ve been harboring throughout the season.
5. Take care of yourself.
When depression or the blues kick in, it’s tempting to just throw yourself down, stare at the ceiling, and watch the hours tick by. It’s normal to feel that life is just too much at times. And while it’s perfectly okay to sit back and just want to ignore life for a moment, always remember that it’s just as important to keep pushing through. Even when you don’t feel like it — especially when you don’t feel like it — get up and do the things you would normally do. Prepare your meals, eat, shower, exercise, go for a walk. I’d even suggest to go a little further and treat yourself to something nice. Whether it be to a favorite dessert, a day getting your nails done, or buying yourself that sweater you’ve had your eye on for a while. The most important thing to do is to always love yourself and take care of yourself. Put in the work to remind your body that you matter.
6. Practice gratitude.
Indeed, at times, it can feel like the world sucks and that there’s no point to anything. But if you practice gratitude every day, you’ll soon see how your perspective begins to change. Find little things to be grateful for. Wake up in the morning and give thanks for another day. Give thanks for your toothbrush. Give thanks for food, no matter how small your meal is.
When we give thanks for the things we already have in our lives, the things that we don’t have fade into the background and become less pronounced, less urgent. When we give thanks, we practice seeing what is already here, we start to realize that we always have enough.
The holidays can be a struggle for some, but they don’t have to be. There are many ways in which we can cope and practice finding peace and happiness in our daily lives. Not even just for the holidays but all year round. If you’re feeling down and lonely please always remember that there are so many people out there willing to help. Do not succumb to the negative feelings and thoughts. There is always someone out there more than willing to lend a helping hand.