Updated: Nov 1
What is it about the holidays that can make us feel really good but also really bad? Well, maybe because there is excitement in celebrating the holidays with friends or family. But there is also a large majority of people who are feeling a deep sense of loneliness.
I have noticed a big difference between living in England to America is that some families tend to be scattered around the country. While at certain times of the year people can tolerate the distance, as it starts to near the holidays and family may not be returning home, those that are left behind start to feel the first twinges of loneliness.
Then there are those people who either have little or no family, or are estranged from their loved ones who may struggle with loneliness throughout the year, but that loneliness is exacerbated during the holiday session.
Let’s face it, social media, ads on TV, and even decorations in the store make people feel that everyone is getting together and you are the ONLY ONE who is not with friends or family this holiday session. The truth is some many people are alone.
How does loneliness manifest?
Well each of us is unique and symptoms could manifest in any of the following ways; anxiety, isolation, procrastination, lack of energy and motivation, finding it difficult to make decisions, lacking self-confidence, feeling irritated, fatigued and a deep feeling of emptiness. Loneliness could also show up physically such as having headaches, muscle aches where we feel tense, or just a sense of not feeling yourself.
What can be done? Let me first say let’s drop the expectation. Advertisements, commercials, decorations, and posts on social media make us feel that we are missing out. I mean let's face it, even if we have family and friends around we can have a sense of feeling left out. Consider what it would feel like if you already feel lonely! Trust me, not everyone is having the time of their lives and the holidays can be very stressful.
Redefine what the holidays mean for you
Maybe you decide to help at a soup kitchen for the homeless or find others in your neighborhood that are feeling lonely and start a neighborhood tradition of having thanksgiving together. A friend of mine shared that all the neighbors get together in the street and place their food on a big table before sitting down and eating Thanksgiving together. What an excellent idea.
Don't sit in your loneliness
Maybe plan something in the future that you can look forward to. I know that when I plan something, maybe getting together with friends, going on a little trip, seeing a play at the theater, or visiting family, I have an uplifting feeling in my stomach when I think about it. Therefore, maybe think about planning something shortly after the holidays so that you have something to look forward to and not just focus on feeling lonely.
For those that do have family and friends around them, consider reaching out to people in your neighborhood and asking them to come and join you for a celebration. It is a great way to meet new neighbors and provide a sense of community.