Ways to Cope with Loneliness at Christmas
Are you going to be alone on Christmas this year? Perhaps you turned down an invitation to spend it with family because of anxiety or there’s just nobody in your life right now to spend it with. Most people seem happy and joyful during the holiday season, and this can magnify any feelings that you have of being alone.
To help you cope if you’re alone on Christmas or another day during the holiday season, I’ve put together a list of suggestions. Some of these are designed to help you boost your mood and feel less lonely, others are aimed at getting you in the company of others, and still some are about planning ahead for a better Christmas next year.
I know you’re feeling lonely, but take some time to think about all the good things you do have in your life. Do you have a roof over your head? Food to eat? Perhaps a TV to watch or Internet to surf? Social anxiety oftentimes can bring on feelings of depression, which zap you of any ability to see the good in what you already have. Some good ways to be more grateful on this day are to fill out a gratitude worksheet or just jot down three things you are thankful for in a notebook.
Deal with Negative Thoughts
It’s one thing to feel lonely—it’s quite another to feel bad about the fact you are alone. Do you feel shame or like you “should” be spending the holiday with friends or family? Let go of those expectations of the day. It’s just another day after all.
If you’re really struggling with negative thoughts that you can’t let go of, do a little thought challenging exercise. Write down the feeling that you are having and what you think caused the feeling. Then, imagine that your thoughts had a voice, and write down three things you think they would say right now.
Next, for each of those thoughts, see if you can find any thought distortions (e.g., black and white thinking, catstrophizing). If you need help doing this, I have some CBT worksheets in my resource library that will help (you can access them by signing up to the resource libary at the link below).
Move Your Body
Sometimes the solution to feeling down and lonely is not lying on the couch and drowning your sorrows in a tub of ice cream. Instead, it’s getting outside, going for a walk, going to the gym, or just dancing around at home. Put on some of your favorite songs (Christmas-y or otherwise) and just start to move.
You can even make this a productive venture by doing some cleaning while you listen to the music. Exercise helps you to release endorphins, which can help snap you out of a funk and cope better with negative feelings.
Attend a Service
It might not seem that way, but you’re certainly not the only one who is alone or feeling lonely on Christmas. If you want to spend the holiday with someone, keep your eyes and ears open to find others who are in the same predicament. Then consider asking them to plan an “orphan Christmas” with you where you celebrate with others who are feeling lonely.
I remember one Christmas my parents invited our neighbor who was alone to join us for dinner. That’s the benefit of the holiday season—it’s an easy time to come together and celebrate a sense of community even with people you don’t know well.
Do Meaningful Work
If you have a job that allows you to work on Christmas, this could be a good way to take your mind off the fact that you are alone. If it’s also a somewhat social job, all the better. On the other hand, if working on Christmas doesn’t work for whatever reason, consider doing meaningful work around your house.
This could mean redecorating a room, creating a nice meal for yourself, completing a project, or anything else that engages your mind and carries you away from “thinking” into a space of “doing.” Being creative is also a good antidote to the notion of consumerism that surrounds the holidays, so if you want to escape the whole mall scene, this is a good choice.
It’s a digital world, and chances are good even if you don’t have in-person friends or relatives to spend the holidays with, you probably know some people online or could connect virtually with at least one person you know. This isn’t a good substitute year-round, but it’s not a bad option if you’re stuck this one day of the year feeling alone. This is also a good option because it’s low on the stress-meter. You can check in with people as you please, stay in your pyjamas if you want, and eat whatever meal suits your fancy.
Sometimes it’s just all about taking care of yourself when you’re feeling down or alone. Turn off your phone, find a good book, eat your favorite foods, watch funny movies, and just stay in for the day. Also, get clear on the fact that you are taking a day to “recharge” rather than push yourself forward. This isn’t an everyday thing, but it’s good once in a while to take a step back.
Sign Up for Therapy
If you are truly struggling with social anxiety that has left you lonely at Christmas, consider signing up for an online therapy service such as Betterhelp. Through a service like this, you can chat with a licensed counselor about the issues you are facing. Taking this step isn’t a sign of weakness; rather it shows that you have the courage to take action.
And if you are truly struggling with low mood, be sure to reach out to someone like a friend, family member, or crisis line. Whether you feel lonely or not, you are never lacking support when you need it. It’s always available to you and you don’t need to feel alone.
Related Articles about the Holidays
- Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar
- Free December Calendar Printable
- Managing Loneliness on Your Birthday
- 10 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress