7 tips for how to cope with loneliness this Christmas
According to a UK survey, which took place during lock-down, one in four adults (24%), said they had feelings of loneliness in the 'previous two weeks'.
Given the holiday season, and this exacerbates even further. The loss for family members who are no longer living or absent. It can also be a time where family dynamics can make gatherings complicated, or potentially bring about negative memories. There may be tremendous pressure to have the ideal family, creating unrealistic expectations that might deepen feelings of isolation and disconnection.
This year, with the implementation of social distancing, and the current restrictions imposed, coping with loneliness has never been more prevalent than before.
Here are seven tips for how to cope with loneliness this Christmas, if you are set to spend any part of the Christmas period alone.
1. There is a huge distinction between “loneliness” and “social isolation”
Loneliness is an unwelcome feeling which occurs when there is a mismatch between the quantity and quality of relationships we would like, and those that we have. Whereas social isolation is a lack of human contact and interaction, which is why some people can feel lonely in a crowded room, and equally totally satisfied being alone. The first step is the internal acknowledgement and becoming mindful of what type(s) of emotions are being triggered.
2. Christmas is all about self-care
Finding effective self-care does not come from outsourcing the power of something external, it comes from the internal power we create when we meet our own authentic needs. Loneliness is as much about our connection with ourselves as it with others – when we feel good about ourselves, it’s easier to connect. To help support this, prepare and schedule your day in advance, to allow things to run smoothly.
3. Connect with loved ones digitally
Although we may be physically apart from our loved ones this year, we do not have to be socially apart. Living in a digital age, we can still connect with our loved ones virtually, via video or phone calls. This may include sharing events from our festive break, irrespective where we are based geographically.
4. Give the gift of kindness
You may recognise the expression, “it is better to give than to receive”, but did you know that this is backed up by research? Those who practice kindness and compassion, see clear benefits towards their well-being and happiness. Whether formally volunteering, being a thoughtful friend, or supporting your more vulnerable neighbours, there is so much you can do to support others over the festive holiday.
5. Connect with others via the common interests we share
Though we may not be attending events in person this year, joining others (albeit virtually), keeping busy and getting creative can help distract us from feelings of loneliness, whilst presenting a sense of togetherness through a creative form.
6. Get outside, where possible
Being outdoors in nature can be healing and beneficial for the body and mind. Whether through a neighbourhood park, through a forest or beach, nature offers a calming effect. And when we combine nature with physical activity, it can help fight depression and anxiety. Right now in the midst of COVID, there has never been a better time to practice this.
7. Talk to people and get the support you need
One of the most important ways for us not to feel deeply alone is to feel heard and supported. There are many support groups, charities and helplines available both locally, and nationally. If you find yourself struggling over the festive break, talk to someone, whether it's a counsellor, a trusted family member or a friend.