Loneliness is a universal emotion that we all experience in our own ways.
No one is immune from loneliness – even those of us who are constantly in the presence of others.
The holidays are a time in which loneliness tends to be more prominent than it typically is.
The past year has been especially lonely as many of our normalities, like work and activities, have been upended due to the pandemic.
Surveys show that COVID has caused an “alarming increase in loneliness.”
Now that the holidays are approaching, feelings of loneliness have only amplified.
The first step on how to be alone during the holidays is to acknowledge your feelings.
Studies have found that labeling your feelings can reduce their intensity. Simply putting a name to loneliness and acknowledging your feelings can help your brain understand how you’re feeling and instantly help you feel a little less lonely. Take control of your loneliness by naming it.
While acknowledging your feelings is a significant first step, it’s not exactly a cure-all for loneliness. It’s important that you don’t let yourself become consumed by them. Saying “I am feeling lonely” to yourself or a loved one is acknowledgement. However, harping on this and allowing it to control your every thought is not healthy. Respect your limitations.
Remember to be kind to yourself during these moments. Loneliness isn’t a sign of weakness. Everyone will experience loneliness at some point in their lives.
For some of us, the loneliness will feel overwhelming, and for others, it might not be as impactful. One of the most important things you can do if you feel lonely is to engage in self-compassion. Give yourself the same compassion you’d offer a friend or loved one if they told you they were feeling lonely. A great way to become more self-compassionate is to journal your thoughts and feelings and respond to them the same way you would respond to a loved one.
Don’t forget to reach out to your loved ones during these times!
While this seems obvious, reaching out to loved ones is extremely important when we are feeling lonely. At times, when we are overcome with feelings of extreme sadness, we tend to push people away, consciously and unconsciously.
Depression and loneliness often go hand in hand and fuel each other.
If you can acknowledge your feelings of loneliness, you can probably recognize that you should call a loved one.
You might be surprised to learn that others are lonely as well.
It’s always comforting to know that while we are lonely, we are not alone in our loneliness.
Another way to combat loneliness is to take everything you see on social media with a grain of salt. Avoid the unrealistic expectations trap!
While arguably trivial, the constant barrage of holiday photos on Instagram, festive displays at the store, and seasonal movies streaming everywhere could be setting you up for disappointment. These things create unrealistic expectations of what the holidays should be like and not what they’re actually like beyond the television.
Always remember: no one is posting the worst of anything on social media. Social media captures the strategically curated highlights of everyone’s lives.
A great way to feel less lonely this holiday season is to volunteer your time.
Look for volunteer opportunities that will give you a sense of purpose. These opportunities will look much different this year as we are navigating this pandemic, but they are out there! Whether it’s running to the grocery store for an elderly neighbor or volunteering at your local food bank, make sure you are taking proper safety precautions. You can find a local food bank on feedingamerica.org
It’s important to remember that even if you are feeling lonely, you are not alone.
If you feel burdened by feelings of loneliness and find it too much to deal with, consider talking to a professional about how you feel.
Seeking professional support can often be more helpful than people expect, whether your feelings are simply heightening during the holidays or a constant throughout the year.
To connect with a crisis counselor: Text HOME to 741741