Holiday Loneliness: From Coping to Acting – by Stephanie Cowle

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Christmas

Loneliness is not just about being alone. It is about feeling disconnected from others, whether you are physically separated or can’t relate to the people around you. While loneliness is a common feeling, it’s not something you should shrug off. Loneliness can have serious effects on your physical and mental health.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the reasons you or someone you care for may experience loneliness around the holidays. More importantly, we’ll highlight some solutions to help make this time of year a little (or a lot) better.

Why do I feel lonely during the holidays?

The message around holiday time is clear: Happy. Merry. Bright. So, it can be confusing and distressing when your feelings don’t match these expectations.

Like anything else you are dealing with, the best place to start is understanding why you are feeling this way. Can you relate to any of the reasons below? Can you add your own reasons to this list?

  • Physical pain or discomfort from being around noise, lights, and crowded gatherings.
  • Memory difficulties, when there are lots of people, places, and things to remember.
  • Fatigue from extra tasks, events, travel, and long visits.
  • Communication barriers when it’s difficult for you to express your thoughts to others.
  • Isolation from feeling you can’t relate to other people.
  • Financial stress about gifts, dinners out, and travel.
  • Transportation challenges, such as accessibility or bad weather.
  • Sadness about past holidays and relationships, before your injury.

As you can see, there are many possible reasons. They may not be obvious at first. Recognizing your reasons or your loved one’s reasons will give you a better chance to find successful solutions.

Strategies for the Season

You may find when it comes to the holidays, you are simply trying to survive. That’s OK! But if you’re ready, let’s set a goal to move from coping to actively enjoying the holidays.

There are strategies you can use to experience this time in a more positive way. You may already use some of these strategies in your daily life or when you face particular challenges.

  1. Pace Yourself. Manage fatigue, pain, and discomfort by prioritizing activities and scheduling rest breaks. If you’re away from home, find a quiet space you can use to take breaks from the crowd. If you feel comfortable, ask a friend or family member to help.
  2. Stick to Routines. As much as you can, set and follow routines that allow you to maintain some consistency and avoid “crashing”. It’s especially important to keep good sleep patterns, eat well, stay hydrated, and be physically active if you are able.
  3. Keep Things Simple. Take advantage of little ways to make things simpler. Write a list of names or important things you want to remember and bring it with you to social gatherings. Create a shopping list and budget. Get a smaller tree or a pre-decorated one. Go easy on yourself!
  4. Create New Traditions. New holiday traditions – for yourself or with others – can help you move forward from the past. Whatever it is, make sure it’s enjoyable for you, not a burden. You will start looking forward to the holidays, rather than dreading them.
  5. Connect with Support. There is help available:

Some strategies may work for you, and others may not. It is all part of the process. As you try things out, write down what works and what doesn’t. This will help you keep moving forward next year.


Do you have tips and tricks that help you through the holidays? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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