Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Survival Guide (Part III) - How to survive feelings of loneliness this holiday season?

Over the last few blog posts, we looked at why the holiday season is such a difficult time for many people. One of the most challenging parts of the holidays is that it can be a very lonely time for many people. Let’s take a look at why that is, and what can be done about it.

In this day and age, families are more spread out, more distant, and busier than ever. For many, not having family to celebrate with is difficult. Others may be single at this time, and not want to participate in holiday activities because they don’t have a partner to go with them. Meanwhile, many people do have family or friends around them, but they still feel very alone due to strained relationships or personal issues that can interfere with their enjoyment such as depression or anxiety.

What can you do when you are feeling lonely this holiday season, or throughout the year?

1. Stay connected. Invite friends to your home. It can be your single women friends, a few friends from work, or more of your acquaintances that you want to get to know better. Or, call an old friend you haven’t spoken to for a while. Talk more with your coworkers instead of rushing them out of your office. If you want to feel more connected to people this holiday season, offer to connect with them!
2. Take care of you. Treat yourself to a holiday gift, perhaps a stress relieving massage, guitar lessons, or a vacation to somewhere you have never been before. By eating right, exercising, and taking care of yourself this holiday season, you will be more likely to feel good about your self and where you are in your life.
3. Know you are not alone. During the holidays, many people share these same feelings of loneliness, isolation, sadness, confusion. It is important to understand that you are not the only one having these feelings so spend time talking to others who you think share some of the same feelings. Understand that movies and television portray the holidays and family lifestyles that are not as realistic as they may seem. In talking with others, you might be surprised by how many people feel the same way you do.
4. Appreciate what you do have. Change your focus to the wonderful things you do have in your life. It’s OK to take a friend to a holiday party or go alone, be grateful that you were invited. May be your aunt Jane’s sarcastic remarks are the only way she knows how to share her feelings, and that she really does love you.
5. Give To Others. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter or in an elementary school or nursing home. Make cookies or cards and send them out to those who are less fortunate than you. Connecting with people who give, and giving to others will allow you to be part of something larger than yourself, and to be sharing your love and your self with others who feel lonely this holiday season.

I would LOVE to hear your feedback! Send an email to with any questions or comments. All communication will remain confidential.

Thanks for checking in!
–Amy L. Hooper, LGSW
Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC