Feeling Lonely During the Holidays
While everyone is singing and shopping with holiday cheer, all you can think about is not having someone to share the holidays with. In fact, many of you may be looking for ways to make this holiday season go by as quick as it can.
If you are experiencing a relationship breakup, move, the death of a loved one, or family cutoff, then you may have more dread than cheer this time of year. While you can’t reverse loss, you can reverse the feelings and perception of loneliness.
Difference Between Loneliness and Being Alone
Social isolation and cutoff are very painful and stressful. But being alone is different than feeling lonely. Many of us enjoy periods of aloneness due to the peace and quiet that solitude brings. But most of us don’t tolerate loneliness for long.
Loneliness is the perception of isolation from others. For instance, even long-term relationship or surrounded by people, you may still feel like no one really knows you. This is loneliness.
Even if you haven’t experienced a recent loss, you may feel lonely sometimes. It’s a cue that we need to reach out to someone. It only becomes a problem when you get stuck in the loneliness trap, and don’t make personal contact with others.
Identify Assumptions that Keep You More Isolated
The first step in reversing loneliness is becoming aware of the thoughts that prevent you from connecting with others. Which of these assumptions live in your thoughts?
- I will never find love again.
- I can’t handle being hurt again.
- I don’t want to burden others.
- He/she doesn’t want to hear about me.
- I don’t have anything to say to others.
5 Ways to Cope with Loneliness During the Holidays
You’ve taken the first step to reversing loneliness by identifying how your assumptions put the brakes on reaching outward. Are you ready to find new ways to reach out and relate in spite of these worries? Set small goals and your confidence will catch up with your new behavior.
1. Look for Others Who Reach Out To You: Focus more on who reaches out to you then on who doesn’t respond. Put your energy where you get the most response and reciprocation. For now, accept more invitations than you turn down.
2. Let Others Know What You Are Looking For: Instead of waiting for others to reach out to you, let them know you are looking to connect. For instance share with others that you don’t want to be alone this holiday and are looking for a place to spend the day.
3. Re-think Relationship Resources: Many types of relationships feel good and can be a resource to us. While being a couple brings a different kind of feel good, friendships and family can also be developed into a relationship resource.
4. Try Something Different to Meet New People: Think about whether or not you want to change how you spend the holidays. Try something new like hosting a friend holiday dinner or volunteering to serve a meal at a homeless shelter. Get out and make connections in a new setting.
5. Find Sustainable Comfort When Hurts Too Much to Reach Out: When coping with loss, you may not be ready to put energy into new relationships. Instead of looking for a quick fix, find ways to cope with your loss that give you more sustainable comfort (spiritual practices, journaling, fuzzy blanket, inspiring book, etc.)
You may not feel all the cheer the holiday seasons bring to some, but you can turn the holidays into a time to reach out to those you haven’t lost. A time to rekindle old friendships and develop new connections. This is something worth celebrating – a growth of a person and connections.
Marci Payne, MA, LPC offers individual, marriage and family counseling in Independence MO (near Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit). Marci specializes in both anxiety and relationship counseling. One of her specialties is working with men who are going through a breakup or divorce who want to be more confident when they start over. Schedule a free 15 minute phone consult to determine if she is the best counselor for you.
Photo Credit: “Contemplation” by Daran Kandasamy