- Posted by Jon Harju
- On December 20, 2019
We often think of the holidays as a time to gather and celebrate with loved ones, but for far too many people, it’s a time of loneliness.
This season can be especially challenging for people who live far from family, have experienced a loss or are going through a divorce or break-up — firing up those feelings of loneliness.
Loneliness negatively affects our health
Loneliness is not only emotionally painful but can also impact our psychological and physical health. It suppresses our immune system, stresses our cardiovascular systems, and can lead to depression.
Studies confirm the holiday season makes it worse for people who already feel alone because of the strong emphasis on others connecting and spending time with loved ones.
5 ways to prepare and manage your loneliness through the holiday season
1) Plan ahead
If you know you won’t be with family during the holidays, see who else is solo for the holidays and connect with friends or neighbours to arrange a festive gathering. If you’re single and dreading the gatherings inevitably filled with couples, then round up your other single friends and plan some fun shenanigans.
2) Limit (or cut) social media
Endless browsing of posts filled with people gathering and showing their best curated moments can set you up for failure with a hefty dose of negative thinking. Research shows that excessive social media use can lead to increased feelings of loneliness. Consider a digital detox this holiday and take dedicate time to doing activities you love.
3) Don’t hide
The temptation to hide over the holidays can increase loneliness and lead to depression. Instead of hiding at home, reach out and connect with others, even if it’s for a coffee or a bite to eat.
4) Give back
For a boost of happiness and fulfillment, consider volunteering or carrying out a random act of kindness. Instead of focusing on what you are missing this holiday, your volunteer hours will be appreciated by an organization and the people it serves.
5)Space and self-love
The holidays can be tough if you’ve just suffered a loss, separation, or if you’re unable to be around family. Give yourself some space to process your emotions and the permission to feel and process your grief or sadness. Be gentle with yourself and consider self-reflective practices, like meditation or journaling, which can calm overwhelming feelings.
The holidays may be a time to be with others, but it is also a time to relax and reset, so try to take time for yourself as well as connecting with others. Strive to get out and engage with people as this will help you avoid focusing on your negative thoughts and emotions and launch you towards some brighter holiday moments.