While it seems like everyone else is singing Christmas carols and baking cookies with holiday cheer, all you can think about is not having someone to share the holidays with. You find yourself single and going through a relationship breakup, a divorce, or death of a loved one. And you just want to get the holidays over with this year.
Instead of feeling like celebrating, you feel lonely. And it’s not the same as being alone, as doing things on your own is tolerable. But imagining that everyone else is happy because they are a family or a couple, that you can’t deal with.
Nothing may change the loss or the ending of your relationship, but you can better understand what’s fueling your loneliness and identify different ways to cope with loneliness during this holiday season.
The Difference Between Being Alone and Feeling Lonely
Coping with the ending of a relationship is hard enough, but when you add social isolation it’s even more painful. In my recent divorce recovery survey, men and women identified that “being with friends” was the most important way they made it through their divorce.
Some people have been so focused on their relationship or personal problems that they may not have developed their relationships with other friends and family. In fact, people tell me that their significant other was their “whole life.” So no wonder, many people feel lost when their relationship ends.
But being alone is not the same as feeling lonely. People have different degrees of tolerance for being alone, but most of us don’t deal with feeling lonely very well. And by loneliness, I mean feeling like you have no one to confide in or no one really knows you well.
Identify How Your Assumptions Fuel Loneliness
Feeling lonely is a cue that we need to reach out and connect with someone, but often we have assumptions and negative mindsets that block us from making contact with others. So the first step in coping with loneliness is bringing into awareness any thoughts that prevent you from connecting with others. Which of these assumptions do you have?
- 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 or offer to others.
If you identify with any of these assumptions, your thinking is adding to your lonely feeling. The more you focus on these negative assumptions, the more you will stay isolated from others during a hard time. You can stay focused on these assumptions or you can try something new this holiday season.
6 Ways Singles Cope with Loneliness During Holidays
You know what you are up for and when you need to push yourself to move out of your comfort zone. Because if you wait until you are more comfortable, you will miss out on opportunities for connecting with others. Not all singles feel lonely, but those that do have found comfort in the following ways to deal with loss during the holidays.
- Focus on Who is Reaching Out to You: Focus more on who reaches out to you then on who doesn’t respond. Put your energy into making contact with others where you get the most response and reciprocation. For now, accept more invitations than you turn down.
- Let Someone Know Your Intention: Instead of waiting for others to reach out to you, let them know you are looking to connect and catch up. 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.
- Re-think Relationship Resources: Many types of relationships feel good and can be a resource for us. While being a couple brings a different kind of feel good, friendships and family can also be developed into a relationship resource. Think about your current contacts and identify what relationship you’d like to develop further.
- Meet New People: If you don’t have many relationships to develop, you may need to make new contacts. Try something new or start a new tradition, like volunteering to serve a meal at a homeless shelter. Get out and make connections in a new setting.
- Change How You Use Social Media: Evaluate how you use social media and whether or not it’s making you feel more lonely. If you get stuck comparing your life to others life, then limit scrolling through social media mindlessly. Only get on social media with an intention to connect with a specific person.
- Find Comfort in Being Alone: When coping with loss, you may not be ready to put energy into new relationships. If you aren’t ready to start a new tradition, find ways to comfort yourself, like spiritual practices, journaling, warm blanket, inspiring book, or creating.
Remember being alone isn’t harmful to your health but feeling chronically lonely keeps you feeling chronically stressed. While you may not feel holiday cheer this year, 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.
Which of these ways to cope with loneliness will you try this holiday season?
Marci Payne offers individual and relationship counseling in Independence MO (near Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit MO). One of my specialties is working with women and men who are going through a divorce and want to be more confident when they find themselves single again. Schedule a free 15-minute phone consult to determine if I’m the best counselor for you.