It’s beginning to look at a lot like Christmas! The holiday season has long since been a time where families and friends congregate to share festivities and celebrate the season. If you’ve seen almost any Hallmark Channel Christmas film, then you’re familiar with the big, bustling parties and the family get-togethers that the company have all but perfected.
With so much emphasis on sharing the celebrations with as many people as possible, there can be a lot of pressure to follow suit. For those who find themselves feeling lonely or isolated this festive season, it can be a particularly bleak time. The holidays for many people is a time filled with laughter and cheer, but for others it can trigger a lot of negative emotions and leave people feeling entirely alone, even when they’re surrounded by a room full of people.
If you or a loved one is feeling isolated this festive season, you might be on the lookout for some ways to combat loneliness. Luckily, Morale and our little elves are here to help. We’ve put together some of our favourite ways to tackle loneliness and make the most of the upcoming festivities.
Why do people feel lonely during the festive season?
It has been estimated that approximately eight million people spent Christmas day alone in 2021. That’s almost one in six people who might be dealing with loneliness! With the magic of Christmas bombarding us from October, and mince pies hitting supermarket shelves as early as September, it serves as a constant reminder that this is the time of year to celebrate togetherness and enjoy social engagements. For those who might be lacking this in their lives there is no respite, and feelings of loneliness are constantly reinforced.
Even if someone is spending time with family and friends this holiday season, it doesn’t mean they are exempt from feelings of loneliness. In fact, their suffering is much more likely to go unnoticed amongst all the hustle and bustle of the season. Perhaps this is the first Christmas without a loved one? The festive period can serve as a painful reminder of who is not sat around the table this year, or trigger past-traumas from previous negative experiences to resurface.
Experiencing loneliness at Christmas time is more common than you might think, and there is no shame in feeling that way. Whether you’re going to be surrounded by your nearest and dearest, or spending the season on your own, combatting loneliness should be high on your wish list. Research has shown that loneliness can not only impact your mental health, but your physical health too, having been linked to conditions such as a weak immune system, high blood pressure, and even dementia.
Ways to combat loneliness
Combatting loneliness can be a little more complex than keeping yourself busy and once you indulge in the negativity, the emotions will spiral and it can become very difficult to pull yourself out of it. Understanding what is triggering your feelings of loneliness and choosing the right ways to combat it is the first step to relieving yourself of the burden, or perhaps the guilt, of feeling lonely this festive season.
Whether you’re spending the holidays alone or with other people, these activities are applicable to both situations. Prioritise taking care of yourself and be kind to your mind and body.
Do your favourite activities
This one is really a no-brainer. Doing your favourite activities, whether that’s reading a good book, painting your nails, making something, or binge watching your comfort TV show can help take your mind off feeling lonely. If you’re in need of a little pick-me-up, getting out and being active is a great way to stimulate the release of some much-needed feel-good hormones. Even just getting outside for a quick walk in the crisp winter weather is going to help your feel better and give you an energy boost.
Take the time to prioritise self care and indulge yourself. This is what the festive season is all about so use that to your full advantage when you’re combatting loneliness. Treat yourself to your favourite foods, enjoy a long, hot bubble bath, sing and dance around the living room, sleep in- whatever indulging yourself looks like for you, don’t skimp and remember to treat yourself with compassion and kindness. If you find yourself really in an emotion slump, practicing some affirmations is one of our favourite tricks to boost your self-esteem.
Take yourself out
Taking yourself out during the festive season is not reserved solely for those spending the season alone. There is so much to do around Christmas time, particularly in the City, so treat yourself to a day out or two and make the most of the festivities. Finding solace in your own company can really help to expel feelings of isolation and combat loneliness. You could take yourself out for a meal, have a wander through town to see the lights, or treat yourself to one of the many wonderful theatrical performances on at this time of year. Just being in your own company and staying present in the moment can help you overcome loneliness as well as giving you a nice dose of empowerment.
Using your time to help others in need can put some purpose back into the festive season and provide a bit more structure for the holidays. Giving back to the community can help take your mind of anything you might be struggling with, fill your time wisely and provide those feel-good hormones. Studies have shown that volunteering can improve a person’s cognitive health, boost self-esteem and even reduce the risk of developing dementia, so it’s certainly a good way to pass the time and combat loneliness.
Keep an eye out for any local charities seeking a helping hand this season. You could find yourself handing out hot Christmas meals to the homeless, delivering to people who are house bound, or making the season just a little brighter for a child in need. However, you decide to help, it can be a highly affirming endeavour and a surprisingly cheerful and positive experience!
It’s OK to say no
The festive season can be a lot for some people to deal with, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you’d prefer to stay at home and take the time to be with yourself and reflect, then it’s important to remember to say NO to an invitation. Protecting yourself from feeling lonely is ultimately the best way to combat it, so if a certain situation is going to trigger anxiety or negativity, then you are perfectly within your right to politely decline the offer.
No one should suffer in silence, so reach out to a loved one or a mental health charity. Sometimes talking can be the best medicine and a great way to start combatting loneliness at this time of year. Be honest with yourself and others about how you’re feeling, so they know the best way to support you through it.
The bravest thing you can do at a time when you are feeling low is ask for help, so reach out to someone you trust and take the time to talk. If you are not comfortable talking to someone you know, we’ve listed a few charities with helplines that you can call if times get tough.
- Samaritans. The Samaritans are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Just call 116 123 or email email@example.com for a reply within 24 hours.
- CALM. Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) are open from 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year and offer listening services and webchat support for anyone who might need it on 0800 58 58 58.
- Shout Crisis Text Line. Simply text “SHOUT” to 85258 if you’re feeling low, anxious, lonely, or just not quite 100%.
At Morale, we don’t want anyone to suffer or struggle through loneliness this festive season. You never know what some people are dealing with, and a little unsolicited kindness can go a long way. By downloading our app, you can send positive affirmations anonymously to anyone in your network and help them combat loneliness and share the love this holiday season. Head over and download the app from Google Play or Apple’s App Store and start spreading the festive cheer.
And to quote one of the best Christmas movies of all time, “if you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around”
Got something to say? We’d love to hear it- send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org