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How to cope with loneliness or anxiety during the holiday season?

Things you can do by yourself to enjoy the holidays

It’s that time of the year, holidays are here! For some, that means spending much-needed quality time with family and friends, while for others it’s that time of the year that feels lonelier and more miserable. It’s completely normal and okay to feel either way.

Some people are happy with minimal social interaction and do not feel lonely, while others may feel lonely even if they are in contact with friends, family, and other people on a regular basis. It is important to remember that external factors like the weather, isolation, or going through a hard time can affect how lonely we feel.

It is also important to remember that the pandemic has changed the way we interact with each other and how we process emotions. This makes the holiday season even more challenging. During this time, feelings of loneliness and anxiety can be more common. If you find that you are experiencing more anxiety or loneliness than usual, here are some things that may help.

Be kind to yourself

You have worked hard and you deserve a break, take special care of yourself and make it a point to engage in activities that you enjoy. This can be activities with others but also give yourself permission to enjoy your solitude more. Simple things can be effective too. Like reading a book, learning a hobby, or picking up something that you wanted to do for a long time. Taking time to do things for yourself will enhance your self-esteem, keep you occupied and give you something to look forward to during the day.

You are not alone

It can be completely normal to feel isolated or lonely during the holidays and as a result you might also be feeling anxious. Everywhere we look there are pictures of happy families and good friends and an image of what the holidays are “supposed to look like”. It is so important to remember there is no normal when it comes to what your family and your friendships look like. What is important is that you are engaging with people who make you feel good. If you need help with setting healthy boundaries, this post may help [link to boundary post]. 

The holidays can also be particularly difficult if you do not have a traditional family or are working through grief at the loss of a loved one. This can include the loss of both people and our well loved animals. Talking to someone who may share your feelings (a friend in real life or anonymously online) can help you cope with your emotions better. Support groups can be a wonderful way to connect with people who have a shared sense of loss this time of year. .

Reach out to people around you

If you feel alone, even with people around you, make an effort to reach out to them—exchange words of affirmation, encouragement, or kindness with people around you. Write greeting cards or holiday wishes to your friends and family, and give back to the community. Cook a warm meal for someone. Oftentimes, we can become trapped by our own loneliness and forget about how making an effort to connect with people or our community around you can help make you feel less lonely.

Give back to the Community

Giving back to the community is a good way of spending the holidays. Volunteer to support a cause close to your heart, help those less fortunate, donate to charity. Supporting community kitchens, animal shelters, and senior homes are all perfect places to volunteer during the holiday season. Help make the holidays a better time for someone less fortunate.

Fill the jar of Gratitude

This holiday season, beat loneliness by cultivating and practising gratitude. If you feel a lack of love, or you feel something is missing, focus on the love, joy, and affection you do have, no matter how small. Focus on things you really value. This can be a good time to maintain a gratitude journal or jar. Focus on what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t.

Comprehend what you are feeling

Examine your feelings. Without judgement. Is something troubling you which makes you keep a distance from other people? Do you want to put more time into your social life and develop stronger relationships, but are afraid or don’t know where to start? Do the relationships in your life bring you joy, or do you need to set better boundaries? 

And do not forget to be there for yourself. Enjoy the holidays, in whatever way is healthiest for you.  Happy Holidays!

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