The holiday season is different for everyone. For many, it’s a happy season, filled with family, fun, and festivities they look forward to all year. But for others, the holiday season is difficult to endure and may be dreaded, as for them it’s a time of loneliness and feeling disconnected from others.  

If you are among the many Americans who feel more alone during this time of year, know that you’re not as alone as you may feel. Loneliness is a normal human experience, and this emotion has been felt by many before, especially during the holidays. Feelings of loneliness can signal that the body and soul need more care and connectedness. Read on to learn practical ways to bring hope and joy back into the season.  

How to Combat Loneliness This Year

While no one wants to feel alone, creating a plan for what to do when loneliness creeps in can help you be more prepared for when these feelings arise. It helps to have activities or mental exercises planned that will keep your mind present, which will combat those feelings of loneliness that are known to start a spiral.  

Here are some ways to proactively cope with feelings of isolation this holiday season.  

Recognize Your Feelings and Act on Them

When you start feeling down in the dumps and lonely, recognize that emotion. Rather than letting your mind spiral, practice journaling to help yourself be present and understand your emotions. Journaling releases emotions from the mind and body and helps individuals process these emotions in a healthy way.  

If journaling may not be right for you, challenge yourself to practice gratitude.  

Write down three things you are grateful for and try to think of more. It can be as simple as, “I’m grateful for a heating system in my home during the winter, food in my fridge, and my dog who makes me smile.” By focusing on what you have and are grateful for, you take the focus away from the negative feelings that may come with being alone. Challenge yourself to practice this daily to boost your mental health and well-being during the winter months.   

Intentionally Connect with Friends and Family

While it may be difficult, find family members or friends to reach out to during the season. When asked how you are doing, be honest with them, as talking with someone you trust will help you feel better. Remember, they care about you and have felt the same way at some point in their lives too. Being honest with one another and sharing such emotions brings about a sense of connection, so loved ones may be prompted to reach back out to you in the future to further build that relationship.  

If you aren’t able to physically meet with friends and family, try some other ways to connect: 

  • Send cards and gifts to each other via mail 
  • Schedule calls via Zoom, Facetime, or Skype  
  • Stream a movie or TV show together  
  • Schedule a video call to play games together  
  • Read the same book, listen to the same podcast or the same music album, and then call and share your thoughts about it with one another  

Be Around People

Even if you are not specifically with someone you know, being around other people in a public space can help ground someone who is feeling lonely. This also prompts you to leave the house, which removes the physical atmosphere that enforces feelings of isolation. Visit a nearby park, or a local art gallery, museum, or café. Bring a book to read, or simply take in your surroundings. Through this, share in the human experience of life; you never know who you may meet along the way.   

Plan to Do Activities You Enjoy

Having a list of activities you enjoy will be helpful when loneliness begins to set in. Planning out activities or events to attend that you can look forward to will bring hope and excitement back to the holiday season.  

Examples of activities could be: 

  • Shopping 
  • Baking  
  • Decorating  
  • Reading  
  • Watching a movie 
  • Listening to music  
  • Doing puzzles 
  • Ice skating  
  • Driving around to see Christmas lights  
  • Visiting the zoo  
  • Walking in a nearby park  
  • Starting a personal project, like a craft or a construction project 

You can also look up local holiday activities happening in your community. If you can, invite a family member, neighbor, or friend to join you in these activities. Whether it’s a festive parade or a Christmas tree lighting at the mall, attending a festive event can lift your spirits and help you find belonging in your community.  

Serve Others by Volunteering

Look for ways to better your community by volunteering at shelters and other community centers. Spending time with those in need reminds us of what we have to be grateful for in life. You may even end up volunteering as a part of a team of people with similar values and interests as you. The act of volunteering shifts someone’s focus on others, which makes service an effective way to fight feelings of isolation. By serving others, you are serving yourself!  

Practice Self-Care

Be sure to treat yourself to something special this year. Finding ways to care for yourself physically will help combat the physical and emotional stressors of the season. This could mean enjoying a pedicure or massage, finally splurging on that new home décor or clothing item you’ve had your eye on, or visiting a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try. While everyone’s relationship with food is different, being sure you receive as many nutrients as possible. This will help your mind and body during the hard winter season. A balanced diet and quality sleep will support mood and overall health.  

Reduce Your Use of Social Media

Social media can be a great tool to stay connected with friends and family. However, along with this comes challenges. While some social media users are open and honest about their lives, the majority only like to showcase the good times and the “highlights” of life and often leave out the lows that they may be experiencing. Only seeing everything go right for hundreds of people can cause doubt and feelings of envy and frustration with our own lives. It’s important to remember that many times, what we see on social media is often staged or simply not reality. Often, the seemingly perfect family in matching pajamas starts arguing right after the photo is taken. In addition to this, remember that people don’t always look and feel as great as they seem on social media. Many of the friends and family you see on your social media and even influencers have their own struggles.  

Overall, social media can be a reminder of what you’re longing for and make someone who is feeling isolated, feel even worse. When this happens, using social media becomes counterproductive. Stay connected with family and friends with calls and text messages and spend your time watching a favorite show instead.  

Wings Recovery Is Here for You

Feelings of loneliness can be temporary, but if those feelings persist for months at a time, there might be something deeper causing you strife. Many people have serious mental health conditions that go untreated.  

If you or a loved one are feeling overwhelmingly lonely or depressed due to the loss of a partner, family member, or close friend, we encourage you to contact us for professional support this season.   

The programs at Wings Recovery include group therapy sessions, which help many to bond with others over similar struggles and not feel so alone. Many of our clients have made lasting friendships in our programs and have found it comforting to meet with others in group sessions. All group sessions are facilitated by a mental health care professional.  

Our care teams consist of highly trained professionals who are here to support you through the holiday season and are ready to help you find effective ways to heal your mental health.  

Contact us today for a consultation:  

https://www.wingsrecovery.org/contact-us/