With comparisons running rampant and expectations through the roof, the holidays can be a difficult time for all.
But especially if you feel emotionally cut off from society or loved ones. After all, lonely people aren’t always alone.
Rather, loneliness is a subjective feeling. And the holiday season can exacerbate any tendencies you have toward loneliness.
Furthermore, loneliness can feed off of past hurts and traumatic experiences, making the holiday season that much more challenging to face.
In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, here are a few ways to manage the feeling of loneliness.
1. Reach Out to Others for Connection
Being with other people is the number one way to beat loneliness. That may seem obvious. Yet, it’s often challenging to reach out to others when you already feel lonely.
Loneliness has a way of feeding on itself. So start small. Ask your friends or family what they are doing for the holidays. Most likely, they’ll ask you the same and offer you an invitation to join them as well.
2. Take Initiative on Planning an Event
In addition to asking others about their holiday plans, make your own. It’s a little different than simply rallying the troops. It’s more about being specific and getting certain people together for an event.
For example, rather than nonchalantly mentioning to people that you’d like to get together, send an email with details. Something like, “Email me back if you’d like to go ice skating tomorrow afternoon,” would get more results.
3. Develop a Closer Connection with One Person
Feeling connected to everyone is a bit much. However, finding one person to get to know better this season is a goal worth achieving.
Avoid the feeling of overwhelm by just focusing on one of your current relationships.
For example, you could spend more time with a sibling or even a good friend. Choosing just one person helps to manage feelings of loneliness.
4. Ask for What You Need
Although you’d probably like people to automatically “sense” how you’re feeling, they won’t. Most people aren’t as clairvoyant as we’d like them to be.
Therefore, it’s important to ask others for what you need.
For example, ask your mom or favorite aunt to make you your favorite dish. Ask your friend to give you a hug. These little things add up to a lot.
5. Avoid Social Media
At any time during the year, social media has the potential to induce negative emotions and responses. The holidays only make it worse because people tend to compare their insides to others’ outsides.
Plus, social media is more about personal branding than sharing real life. This can make you feel down in the dumps. Do yourself a favor and stay off of social media if you find yourself getting upset by what you see.
6. Acknowledge Your Feelings
Pretending like you aren’t lonely when you are doesn’t help the problem at all. In fact, it may even make the problem worse.
It’s not that you need to wallow in negative feelings. Yet, acknowledging lonely feelings is vital to managing them.
You feel things because of what you’ve experienced in life. Honor your emotions and allow them to move through you.
7. Take Care of Yourself
It’s easy to forgo the basics during the holiday rush. However, you need to take care of yourself now more than ever.
Make it a point to get enough sleep at night. Stick with your exercise regime and eat healthy foods.
Take time to do activities you enjoy. One of my personal favorites is watching something funny on TV. Record Ellen so you can watch at your convenience, and/or choose from the huge selection of stand-up comedians on Netflix. Don’t forget to make time to reflect or meditate so you stay emotionally grounded.
Take the first step…
If you’re ready to consider therapy to help you cope with loneliness or isolation during the holidays, I would like to help.
Please get in touch with me via voicemail or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT