Loneliness during the Christmas season

For some of us, the Christmas season can be a time of loneliness rather than joy. This may be because we are reminded of the loss of a loved one, or a relationship breakdown or perhaps because we live far away from family.

If you’re a key worker, your shifts may mean you are unable or too busy, tired or overwhelmed to attend all of the social events that usually take place over the festive period. This can lead to feelings of isolation and being left out.

You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. Some of us may have strained relationships with our families or feel emotional distance from them. Constant adverts and social media posts featuring happy, smiling couples and families can make us feel even more lonely.

Try to shift your expectations
A big part of why many of us feel lonelier at this time of year is the high expectations that society places on the festive period. Films, adverts and social media posts can lead to unrealistic expectations of what this time of year “should” be like.

Avoid comparing yourself to what you see on social media. Remind yourself that people tend to only share the “highlights” on social media. You may want to limit the time you spend on it each day or avoid it entirely.

Instead of focusing on what you think your celebrations should be like, think about what you actually want it to be like. Ask yourself what brings you joy and what would your ideal day look like? You may want to invent your own traditions.

If you’re spending this holiday season alone this year, click here for some advice.

Make time for self-care
Looking after yourself can help you to feel better and enjoy the time you spend alone more. Make a list of self-care activities that make you feel good, for example taking a relaxing bath with essential oils, listening to your favourite music, reading a good book, or going for a walk. Try to do at least one of these every day to help boost your mood and take your mind off feeling lonely.

Connect with others
It’s harder to feel lonely when you’re actively connecting with others. Make an effort to say hello to neighbours, talk to a colleague about their weekend or write holiday cards this year. The festive period is also a good opportunity to reach out to old friends. Why not send them a “Happy Christmas” text and arrange a catch up?

Is there someone in your life who may also be finding this time difficult? A friend who lives alone or a colleague going through a break up, for example. Sending a text, email or card can really make someone’s day and can help you both feel less alone.

Get involved in your community
Find out what’s on in your area and get involved. Whether it is Christmas carols, crafting workshops or local markets, getting out and about and doing something can help relieve loneliness.

Give to others
Helping others can make us feel more connected, in turn helping us feel less lonely. If you have the time, volunteering is a great way to do this. Search for opportunities on Do-it.org or on the websites of charities close to your heart. Befriending services like Silverline and Age UK are especially important over this time of year.

Even if you can’t volunteer, simple, unexpected acts of kindness during this season can really brighten someone’s day and make you feel good as well. You could…
Donate to a food bank
Give a generous tip to a friendly customer service worker like a waiter or barista
Buy a homeless person a sandwich and a hot drink
Drop off an unexpected gift on a friend’s doorstep
Help someone who’s struggling with their luggage on public transport
Pay for a stranger’s coffee
Donate pet food to a local shelter
Offer to wrap gifts for others
Give up your seat to someone on busy public transport
Let someone else go in front of you in a queue
Bake cookies for your neighbours or work colleagues
Buy your friend chocolate (or a drink in the pub!) when they’re feeling down…and listen thoughtfully if they need to vent
Give genuine compliments

Keeping Well NWL are here to support you and help you access free talking therapies if needed. Give us a call on 0300 123 1705 or use our live chat service.

Contact us:
Live chat or call 0300 123 1705 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Email keepingwell.nwl@nhs.net
Complete a self-referral form or request a call back.

Useful contacts and resources:
Meetup.com - allows you to find face-to-face groups of people who share your interests or aspirations.
Samaritans.org - open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk. Freephone: 116 123
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