Dealing with Loneliness During the Holidays

Rev. Suzanne Marlatt Stewart

The holiday season is generally thought of as a time of joy and love, but for many people, it’s a time of loneliness. Some people live far from family and miss seeing their loved ones. It’s also not unusual for people to feel emotional distance from the others they’re with, which can result in feeling lonely even when in a room full of people.

While it may not completely eliminate feelings of loneliness, taking special care of yourself can help you feel better and enjoy your time alone. Whether you take a relaxing bath, curl up with a good book, enjoy a hobby, or learn something new, doing something for yourself is a form of self-care that is especially important during difficult times.

Elizabeth Scott, Ph.D., has more than two decades of experience educating and working with others on issues related to stress, emotional well-being, health, relationships, and overall life satisfaction. Following are some considerations for dealing with loneliness.

Understand that you’re not alone. While you may be feeling alone in your life right now, know that you’re not alone. The holidays can be a lonely time for many. Some people wish they could be with family, but can’t; others mourn the relationships with family that they wish they had or long for closer friends. Similarly, some may wish for a supportive romantic relationship and find themselves feeling especially isolated during the holidays. While it may be uncomfortable to feel lonely, it’s also OK to feel these feelings.

Rethink your expectations. For many people in our society, there are high expectations for this time of year. The absence of a romantic partner or a close family seems magnified during this busy time when we’re all supposed to be going to parties, exchanging gifts, and enjoying jolly feelings with loved ones. One way to deal with the feelings of loneliness is to rethink your expectations. It’s also important to realize that few people’s lifestyles truly measure up to “movie standards” of perfect living.

Get connected. You may feel lonely when surrounded by people, but it’s harder to feel lonely when you’re reaching out to them. Whether you’re saying hello to neighbors, writing holiday cards, or picking up the phone and calling an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, reaching out to people and strengthening bonds can help you feel more connected and less lonely.

Cultivate gratitude. One easy antidote to feelings of lack is to cultivate feelings of gratitude for what you have; it’s hard to focus on both at once. If you’re feeling a lack of love in your life, make a concerted effort to focus on the love that you do have—from friends, family, neighbors, and even pets. Better still, journaling can provide a written record of everything you have to value in your life to read through when you’re feeling down.

Give to others. One meaningful way to feel less lonely during the holidays is to donate your time to a cause you believe in. Helping others who are less fortunate can fill you with feelings of love and pride. Perhaps someone in your community can use a little extra goodwill. Drop off an unexpected gift, maybe something you have made.

Have a peaceful holiday, enjoying what each moment brings.

Rev. Suzanne, a resident of SaddleBrooke, is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained nondenominational, representing all faiths, and her focus is inclusivity. Email her at [email protected].