For all the joy they bring, the holidays are also a time of loneliness. That’s particularly true for certain groups of people like seniors who don’t have many social connections, empty-nesters, and anyone who’s grieving the recent loss of a loved one and looking at getting through the holidays alone.
A survey by AARP found that 31% of respondents say they’ve felt lonely during the holiday season sometime in the past five years. And in another survey, by ValuePenguin, 7 in 10 reported feeling some form of holiday loneliness, and 1 in 10 reported severe loneliness.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to feel more connected and experience less holiday loneliness if you have no family around through the holidays. The key is to be proactive about protecting your mental and emotional health. Below you’ll find helpful strategies for minimizing holiday loneliness.
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How to Cope with Loneliness During the Holidays
If you’re wondering what to do on a holiday alone, rather than going through the season feeling lonely, try some or all of the tips below. They can be very helpful. Plus, simply having a plan of action can help alleviate feelings of sadness.
1. Make plans to connect with others
Instead of isolating when you start feeling lonely around the holidays, which is common, try to overcome that inclination and make plans with others. That can mean getting together or even just catching up on the phone. Taking charge of your social calendar can feel very empowering.
2. Avoid social media and holiday advertising
Seeing how others are connecting with loved ones can be painful if you’ll be coping with loneliness at Christmas time. Commit to ignoring your social media feeds until after the holidays or at least reducing the amount of time you spend checking updates. Also, turn your attention to something else if you’re watching TV and ads highlighting holiday “togetherness” come on.
3. Practice self-care
Do you rarely get a chance for a relaxing bath or to focus on a favorite hobby? Use time around the holidays to do those things. Or, maybe you want to pick up a new hobby. Practicing self-care is important all year long, and especially around the holidays.
4. Practice gratitude
Spending more time thinking about and appreciating what you have leaves less time to focus on the holiday gatherings you won’t have this year. And strengthening your sense of gratitude provides benefits all year long.
5. Acknowledge and share your feelings
You may believe that people can see that you’re lonely. However, you might be doing a better job of hiding your loneliness than you think. Being open and honest—with yourself and others—about your desire to spend more time with people around the holidays can open the door to new opportunities. And, it just feels good to express your emotions.
6. Remind yourself that others are in a similar position
You may not have others around you physically, but many people are in the same emotional “place” that you are. Try to think of yourself as going through this experience with them, even if you don’t know them. And regarding the first tip in this list, maybe you can connect with others who’ll be alone during the holidays so you all can enjoy some camaraderie.
Find the Support You Need at Baptist Health
Getting through the holidays alone isn’t easy. If your feelings of loneliness become severe, you should reach out for help. For example, you can get support from a Baptist Health behavioral health provider near you in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
If you think you might harm yourself, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.
Next Steps and Useful Resources