9 Tips To Help You Cope With Holiday Loneliness
Updated: Mar 4
The Holiday season is something that society has convinced us we should be excited for. There are gatherings with family and friends, romantic nights by the fire, parties, gifts, and decorations—it’s all so magical! And some people really do love the Holidays, but for those experiencing loneliness, it’s not all merriment and joy. In fact, the Holidays can be especially painful and depressing for many. If you’re feeling lonely this Holiday season, keep reading—we’ve got some tips to help you combat loneliness at this time of year!
How To Cope With Feelings Of Loneliness
Loneliness can sometimes feel like an uphill battle that you'll never overcome, but remember, it’s normal to feel lonely sometimes (especially around special occasions and Holidays) and there are still steps you can take to help ease those feelings. Below are 9 tips that can help you cope with loneliness over the Holidays.
1. Practice Self-Care
If you’re feeling lonely this Holiday season, one of the most helpful things you can do is to treat yourself with genuine kindness and compassion. Try taking some time each day to practice self-care; it wont "get rid" of your feelings of loneliness, but it can help ease them and boost your mood. Try out a new hobby, take a bath, have a day out shopping on your own, curl up with a good book, go for a hike, or watch your favourite movie. There are lots of activities that you can absolutely enjoy alone. In fact, you can aim for activities that you actually prefer to do alone to start boosting your self-esteem and contentment when being alone.
2. Reach Out To Those You Care About
It can be hard to connect with others over the Holidays when you’re feeling lonely. You may feel awkward asking for support, and even people that you normally spend time with may seem too busy and preoccupied to stay in touch. This can leave you feeling like a burden, or a bit left behind. But it’s important to try to connect with those you care about when you can.
Reach out to close friends or family; even if they don’t have time for a long visit, just a phone call, a walk, or running errands together can help ease the feeling of loneliness and help maintain connections. When you put effort into meaningful relationships, you'll be more comfortable opening up about your feelings which not only further deepens connections, but also helps combat loneliness.
If you don’t feel like you have anyone in your life you can reach out to, don’t be afraid to speak with a therapist or counsellor. They care about your wellbeing and can lend you a supportive ear.
3. Find New Connections
Social isolation has been shown to increase loneliness and have a negative impact on your health, both physical and mental. This means that making new connections with people can be a great way to help keep off feelings of loneliness! If you want to make new connections, try joining a group or club doing something you love or are interested in. It could be anything from a sport to a book club, a hiking group, an online group, or even taking a class in something like painting! All of these things can bring you closer to people who have similar interests and may also be looking to make new connections with others.
4. Change Your Perspective
When you’re lonely, it’s easy to get caught up thinking about what you wish you had, or people that you’re missing. But research shows that practicing gratitude can actually reduce loneliness and improve your mental health. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t acknowledge your lonely feelings, or that you have to pretend that everything is great (we are not trying to dismiss our feelings and go down the rabbit hole that is "Toxic Positivity"- see an article here). Just remember to take some time to reflect honestly on your life, and gently remind yourself of things that you’re thankful for and really let it soak it in.
Pro Tip: Try starting a gratitude journal, where you write about something you’re thankful for each day. This can help redirect your thoughts and create a more positive mindset. Click here for a sample gratitude journal.
5. Manage Your Expectations
During the Holidays, it can be hard to ignore all the commercials, social media, stores, movies, and the rest of society telling us to celebrate more, decorate more, host more parties, buy more presents, and give more—it’s never ending! We’re made to feel like we aren’t living our “best lives”, or like we’re somehow failing unless we’re doing all of these things. It can be tough not to compare yourself to all of these expectations and start to feel the pressure to be perfect and to "keep up with the Joneses". It can leave those experiencing loneliness with feelings of inadequacy, shame, or anger.
This year, instead of forcing yourself to live up to others' expectations, try relaxing your expectations. Do what feels right for you. Only decorate if you feel like it, go to whatever parties you truly want to go to; embrace the idea that relationships of any kind aren’t flawless; choose not to do gifts this year (or do fun hand-made gifts or recycled gifts). Let go of the "picture perfect” Holidays- no one’s life is perfect, and there is beauty in the imperfections. Give yourself permission to just be you.
6. Give Back/Volunteer
When you’re feeling lonely, it can sometimes leave you feeling unappreciated or even worthless. The last thing you might feel like doing is getting out and helping others. But this can be a great way to reduce loneliness, boost your spirits, change your outlook, create a sense of belonging, and give you something to concentrate on outside of yourself. Giving your own time to help others in your community can help you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile, and that you are valuable and appreciated. It is also a great way to meet other amazing people in your community. Check to see whether your local homeless shelters, animal shelters, or even other groups that run holiday giving campaigns need volunteers!
7. Get Active
Getting more physically active may not come to mind when you think about coping with loneliness, but it has so many benefits for your mental and physical health! We often think of loneliness as something we feel emotionally, which is true. But loneliness can impact us physically through issues like reduced appetite, low energy, sleep issues, headaches and other physical manifestations. By getting up and moving, we are able to release tension, give ourselves a little endorphin kick, and get our heart rate up.
8. Acknowledge Your Feelings
When you’re lonely and watching everyone else all full of cheer and excitement, your first instinct might be to try to pretend you’re not lonely. But trying to suppress or avoid feelings of loneliness over the Holidays (or in general- see an article here about why emotional suppression is harmful) doesn't do you any good. Loneliness is a very common and valid experience, and is nothing to be ashamed of no matter why you’re lonely.
Instead of trying to ignore your loneliness, acknowledge it, observe it, and accept those feelings. This is a mindful approach to emotion regulation. Also consider why you are feeling this way. People are often afraid to acknowledge what they consider “negative” feelings, or feelings that are less socially acceptable. It is completely okay and healthy to accept and embrace your feelings of loneliness in a non-judgemental way, as long as they aren’t taking over your life.
9. Talk To A Therapist
If you find yourself really struggling this Holiday season and you feel like you need someone to talk to, consider reaching out to a therapist. A counsellor or psychotherapist can help give you an outlet to talk about your feelings, work through the reasons behind some of your emotions, and help guide you in ways to cope in a healthy way. Even just giving your feelings a true voice to someone who cares can help ease your Holiday loneliness.
The Bottom Line
Holidays are often a time where we want to feel joy and excitement and the last thing you may want to feel is loneliness. But no matter why you’re lonely, remember that there are ways to help ease those feelings and there are always people you can turn to for connection, comfort, support, and advice. If you’re feeling lonely this Holiday season, give yourself the gift of compassion—you deserve it! If you are finding your loneliness overwhelming and want to talk, please reach out to us to schedule a free 15 minute consultation with one of our Barrie therapists or to book a session—we would love to help!
Our team of online and Barrie therapists provides quality and effective counselling & psychotherapy services in Barrie and virtually across Ontario to individuals (6+), couples and families. We also offer an Affordable Therapy Program that provides counselling services in Barrie to individuals (12+) who are facing financial challenges that need mental health support.