Do you feel lonely during the holidays? The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is often a reflection time, reflecting on memories and recreating traditions. But when you are alone, it can quickly feel like a dark cloud is descending on you. However, there are things you can do to counteract feeling lonely during the holidays and enjoy the Christmas season.
Expectations and loneliness.
Expectations can be the catalyst of loneliness. For example, when you expect the holidays to be the same after a family death, a divorce, or the children have moved out, you are setting yourself up for feeling lonely.
Yet, it can be challenging not to revert to those expectations. If you expect your grown children or grandchildren to call you on Christmas Day or invite you for dinner, and they don’t, you will be disappointed. How do you handle that disappointment?
Do you vow not to talk to them until they call you? It isn’t fair to assume that others know what you want. During the holidays, people’s lives are hectic, and it may not occur to them to call.
Take the bold approach. Call your family on Christmas Day. Offer to bring food for the holiday dinner, or better yet, invite them to your home. Lower your expectations when it comes to others this season. Everyone is struggling with something.
Accept that the holidays will look and feel different after a divorce or death – not necessarily bad, but different. But you can choose to honor the passing of a loved one this season with joy and inner peace. Likewise, you can choose to welcome a fresh start after a divorce.
If expectations are the catalyst to feeling lonely, then acceptance and creativity are the solutions.
Tips for not feeling lonely during the holidays.
Getting around others is key to combatting loneliness over the holiday season. How this looks to you will depend on your personality, but most counselors will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. How will you experience life if you stay isolated?
Pull out your calendar and notebook as you read the following list of suggestions. Think about the people you would like to get to know a little better this year. You never know what a blessing someone might be or that you could be to someone in need.
Why wait for invitations? Plan a get-together at your home and invite others from church, clubs, organizations, or neighbors. Your event could be a fancy dinner, lunch, coffee, dessert, or tea party. Get creative on the type of get-together you will have and whom you will invite.
If you offer a relatable service, you can put a spin on your party. If you pamper women, invite the women from your church and about town to a “muffins and makeover” party where they can relax and pamper themselves without being sold to. Or invite some guys over to watch a game.
If you know several families in the area and live in a warmer climate, invite them for an unconventional dinner on the barbeque grill. Make the get-together fun, and you will make some new friends.
We often experience loneliness when we focus on what we have lost or don’t have anyone to connect with for a time. When you volunteer your services, you step out of your mind and focus on others. Serving others is an honor and blessing.
The holiday season is full of opportunities to serve in your church and community. Look around for food pantries, free clothing ministries, Secret Santa or Secret Angel organizations, and churches. What are you good at doing that could help others? Are you great with your hands and can build backdrops for Christmas plays?
Can you cook and bake for Christmas dinners to give away at church or shut-ins? Are you great with children? Maybe you could direct the Christmas play at church or offer to work in the nursery. Even taking donations for a worthy cause can get you out and meeting people.
Invite others to events.
Most small towns and cities offer lots of events between Halloween and New Year’s Day. Everything from haunted trails and parades to community dinners to plays and concerts. Grab a friend or group and head out to a few of these events. Take a look at your calendar and write in the holiday events that you would love to attend.
For example, do you think the single mom next door would love to take her children to see the Christmas lights? Offer to take her and her family and get hot cocoa afterward. Do you know of a widow or widower who would like to attend the community Christmas dinner? Invite them and spend the day getting to know each other better. Holiday events are excellent opportunities to form friendships.
Start new traditions.
We may experience feelings of loneliness when we cannot recreate the traditions we had with our families or spouse. Maybe you used to play Santa every year for your children, but now they are grown. Or you hosted Christmas dinner for your parents and in-laws, and now each has passed. Maybe for the first time in your life, you are living alone.
Now is the time to create new traditions for yourself. What can this look like for you? It could be making a list of holiday movies you plan to watch in December or buying your favorite treats for Christmas Eve. You could spend a few evenings writing thoughtful Christmas cards or making a dent in your reading list. Whether baking sweet treats Christmas Eve or having fruitcake and eggnog Christmas morning, make it a new (and fun) tradition that you will look forward to every year.
Call, text, and video chat with family.
If you do not live near your family or they cannot make it due to their holiday obligations, call, text, and video chat with them. Technology makes it so easy to reach out and see and hear our loved ones now, and it’s a great way to combat loneliness. You can watch your grandchildren open their presents through FaceTime or Zoom. You can talk for hours on an unlimited plan if you want.
Make a date with your family this season for calls and video chats. If you are still getting familiar with the technology, spend time navigating the platforms. You could even connect your laptop to your television and video chat with your family on the big screen.
Steer clear of social media.
Have you heard of the concept of FOMO? FOMO is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out. It is an emotional reaction to what we think we are missing out on. When we spend more time on social media, observing other families during the holidays, we may feel the anxiety, depression, and general “blues” from FOMO.
Instead, keep your time on social media to a minimum. Remember that people only post the highlights of their life and the photos that have been filtered and edited with the perfect lighting and placement. Don’t compare your life to theirs, as a comparison only leads to discontentment and steals your joy.
Your life is something to celebrate. It is unique to you. Every milestone, every hurt, every good opportunity, and every disappointment makes up the person you are and the person you are becoming. Comparing yourself to others will only lead to depression, so avoid social media until after the holidays, if possible.
Do you need to talk to someone?
Are you feeling lonely this season? Are you caught in a cycle of grief and loneliness? Contact our office today to speak with a coordinator who will schedule an appointment for you with a counselor. Sometimes talking with someone who understands is the support you need to navigate loneliness during the holidays. Give us a call today.
“Loneliness”, Courtesy of micheile henderson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Candle Arrangement”, Courtesy of Joanna Kosinska, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Christmas Puppy”, Courtesy of Jakob Owens, Unsplash.com, CC0 License