The Curious Leader
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The Curious Leader

Three Solutions to Holiday Loneliness

Loneliness is a chronic problem that keeps on growing. In December 2018, Phys.Org reported that three-fourths of Americans experienced moderate to high levels of loneliness. With more people spending time on their electronic devices, isolation from COVID, and increased working from home, the problem is only rising. Now, you don’t need to go anywhere; simply click a button and whatever you want is at your disposal. Family time has been replaced with laptops, television, and seemingly more important distractions. We have substituted social interaction with technology.

Withdrawal from mainstream living has a price. Humans, like most other animals, are social. We feel disconnected when we are isolated, and life loses its zest. A home is a source of comfort, but there needs to be a balance between alone time and social time. Otherwise, you’re likely to fall into a pit of loneliness that consumes you and can lead to severe depression.

Stay Connected

It’s essential to have some type of social interaction every day. Make a few phone calls to people you care about, invite someone over, or at least join in an online group chat if you don’t want to have physical contact. However, if you are out and about, make a point of observing the people around you, and don’t be afraid to chat. Whether you run into someone you know or strike up a conversation with a stranger, it feels good to connect and will help you come out of your shell.

New Hobbies & Interests

Rather than staying stuck in a rut, try something new. There are plenty of social opportunities, card clubs, dance lessons, book clubs, chess and backgammon events, and multiple discussion groups on just about every topic. They are either in person or online for those who don’t want to risk exposure to COVID.

We’ve all had something on our “bucket list,” and now is the perfect time to scratch off one of those items. If you’ve put on a few pounds, now is an excellent time to connect with someone you can go for a walk with and make a new friend. Whatever will take you out of the lonely into the social zone will be a good start to chase away the blues.

Be the Friend that You Want

When you’re lonely, it’s easy to withdraw and become more and more apprehensive about reengaging with people. Your mind tells you ‘don’t bother,’ but your mind isn’t always the best adviser. If you can focus on someone who is also alone and could use a friend, you can feel fulfilled by reaching out to that person. You can’t dwell on your loneliness when you are comforting someone else.

Every day, we run into other people with whom we can either ignore or engage in conversation. Of course, not everyone wants to talk, but you might be surprised that a smile and a kind word can lead to a feeling of connection that ultimately, might lead to friendship.

Rather than waiting for the phone to ring, be the one to reach out to comfort someone else. Offer to run an errand, do a favor, or just listen to what that person is going through. This is a sure way to feel the comfort you seek and stay engaged with people you care about.

Loneliness is a choice. You might feel that you have no choice but to be alone, but that isn’t necessarily the truth. Loneliness is a state of mind that tells you no one cares and there’s nothing to do. But there’s always something to do. You simply must engage. And there’s always someone who could use a kind word or a little cheering up, resulting in both of you feeling better.

Next time you feel lonely, try a little love. Best said by the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” Just try moving slightly out of your comfort zone. Then watch as that empty feeling inside starts to fill up with a little bit of joy — something we all need. The more you fill your empty cup, the better you will feel.

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Dr. Donna Marks

Dr. Donna Marks

Dr. Donna Marks is a licensed psychotherapist and an addictions counselor. She is certified in Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Hypnosis, and Sex Therapy.