Ah, ‘tis the season. Cue the repetitive barrage of ‘Have you pre-ordered your turkey?’ and ‘When’s your tree going up?’. And yet 36% of us are too embarrassed to admit that we experience feelings of isolation during the festive season. Today, we’re talking about how best to deal with feeling alone at Christmas.
Why am I feeling alone at Christmas?
You’d be hard-pushed to step outside from mid-November onward and not be reminded of the impending holiday season. The tacky Christmas markets and Black Friday deals are a bit of a giveaway. Even if you opt to stay in, Netflix will likely remind you by pushing its fresh batch of Christmas specials to the top of your recommendations. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that we’re pretty susceptible to getting wrapped up in the commercialism of it all.
For many of us, though, this prescribed joy can contribute to pre-existing feelings of loneliness. It may be that you’re coping with loss, a limited support system, or relatives that live far away. Some also suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder and pressure to meet spending demands during a time when many are having to tighten their purse strings. Paired with feelings of alienation that Christmas consumerism can cause, many of us struggle to find a balance.
Managing feeling alone at Christmas
If you’re experiencing feelings of loneliness, it’s important to know that it’s totally normal. In fact, lots of us are in the same boat. So stay tuned, because we’ve got some tips for managing this difficult time.
Take a step back
First things first, take a step back and check in with yourself. A great way to do this is to write down your negative thoughts. You’ll find this helpful when it comes to figuring out how to address them. It’s easier to reframe negative thoughts when they’re put in front of you. Next, reassess by making a list of things that you’re grateful for next to your negative thoughts. Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to experience negativity. But we can be pretty good at having our glass half empty, so it doesn’t harm to remind ourselves that we can top it up every now and then.
The rewards of a routine
Gang, we’ve told you once and we’ll tell you again, but giving your mind and body some regular TLC goes a long way. Getting your sleep-wake pattern to an optimum, engaging in regular exercise, and watching your intake of alcohol will help to regulate your emotions. If you have time, creativity is a curer, too. It could be reading a book, trying out a new recipe, or doing some handicrafts. Having outlets like these will make it easier to reframe your thoughts and gain new perspectives.
Now, we know that planning social events probably isn’t topping your to-do list when you’re feeling low. But socializing during this time doesn’t always have to feature festivities. In fact, anti-Christmas events are pretty popular. Reaching out to your friends, family, and/or community to organize a festive-free event might well be a great option.
In the meantime, saying yes to small things that you may feel inclined to turn down, like going for a coffee with an acquaintance, may help to shift your mindset. Remember that fears around socializing during this time don’t always match reality. In fact, you may well get more out of sharing your experiences than you may think.
If you’re going to be on your own on the day itself, it doesn’t mean you can’t make plans. Schedule reading a favorite book, making a phone call, or popping in on a neighbor to say hello. What’s more, if you are looking for company during Christmas, you can try reaching out to local charities that support vulnerable people.
It’s pretty easy to fixate on the 25th and forget that there’s plenty that lies after it. You may also find it useful to take some time to plan beyond the big day. Setting goals and intentions for the next year will give you something to look forward to. And your goals don’t have to be revolutionary or life-changing, by the way. Setting smaller and more realistic objectives, like reaching out to one person per day, be it a stranger or a friend, will likely boost your self-esteem.
Check-in with others
Taking some time to check in with people around you will likely alleviate some loneliness whilst boosting your compassion. In fact, you may also be surprised at how similar your own thoughts and feelings are to those who surround you.
And you can reach out to more than just loved ones. Volunteering in local projects and groups will likely help with feelings of loneliness, as well as raise your confidence and gratitude levels. If you don’t have time to volunteer regularly, small acts of kindness can do just as much good. Try picking up some groceries for your neighbor or elderly relative, even if it pushes you a tad out of your comfort zone.
Cut the comparisons
It’s an easy trap to fall into, but constantly comparing yourself to those around you isn’t likely to contribute positively to your mindset. Being able to step away from the burden of expectations that commercialism may impose on you is really helpful. Indeed, the festive chit-chat circling around gift-giving and holiday-taking may make you feel inadequate. But reconnecting with your own needs will go a long way when it comes to stepping away from the curse of comparison. What’s more, it’s ok if you aren’t able to buy gifts this year. Remind yourself of your ability to give kindness and compassion through acts of service and quality time with loved ones and people in your community.
Last, but certainly not least, is that you’re totally allowed to be a guilt-free Grinch and ask for some support. In fact, asking for help is likely to make those around you feel valued and wanted, in turn strengthening those relationships. Sharing feelings in this way will solve more problems than you might think.
Don’t stress if you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to a loved one, though. There are plenty of resources at your disposal. Joining local community groups, many of which you can find online, is always an option. You can also reach out to Crisis Text Line at 741741. SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 also provide professional and confidential advice and support.
Feeling alone at Christmas: You got this
So that’s the handy Hormona guide for those of us who catch ourselves feeling alone at Christmas. We know that the holiday season can sometimes feel endless, but we hope we’ve lent a helping hand. Regardless of how you spend your holidays, you got this!
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