’Tis the season to be jolly. The festive period is a magical time of joy, love, happiness and cheer. Or so we’re led to believe. But you don’t feel this way, you feel lonely. You may be away from family and friends, in a difficult relationship or feeling alone in a room full of people. No matter the reason, when you’re lonely, the holiday season can bring with it a sense of dread and be a far cry from being the most wonderful time of the year.
There is a lot of pressure to feel happy and connected during this time with a high level of expectation which can magnify the feelings of loneliness. This in turn can lead to an injection of self-judgement which can be painful, stressful and make you feel even worse. Here are five simple ways that can help you to cope with loneliness over the festive period by confidence and mindset coach, NLP practitioner Lorna Smith.
Acknowledge the feelings and honour them
Give yourself permission to feel. Say your feelings out loud. Although it may not erase them, this can be really powerful. By unbottling and releasing the emotion, you will feel an immediate sense of relief. Remember, like clouds, feelings pass.
Connect with other people
Loneliness can make us want to retreat and isolate. Override the instinct by connecting with others. Smile at a neighbour or say hello to a passer-by, have a chat over coffee with a colleague, volunteer, get in contact with friends and family. Nowadays there’s a plethora of ways to do this; FaceTime, Zoom, phone, Whatsapp, email or social media etc. Choose what works best for you and what you’re most comfortable with. Getting in contact with others will also remind you that you’re not alone. You could even organise a virtual holiday celebration or quiz night.
Rest and relax
Make time to take care of yourself. Ensure you eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. Do something that you find fun as this will help you to enjoy your own company, lift your spirits and take your focus off feeling alone. Watch your favourite movie, read a book, bake. Looking after both your physical and mental wellbeing will help you to feel more positive.
Don’t put pressure on yourself
To feel any other way than you do. It’s okay to feel lonely, whether you’re physically alone or surrounded by people. We are bombarded with flawless pictures on social media and given the perfect image of the holidays in the movies. This leads to unrealistic expectations, setting us up for disappointment. Ask yourself what you can do to have the best experience for yourself. Perhaps do something different, try something new or create a new tradition. Set yourself realistic expectations and limit your time spent on social media if it’s a trigger for you.
Don’t compare yourself to others
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. Don’t focus on what everyone else has or is doing. Instead, look within and practise gratitude for the positive things in your life. These can be big or small e.g. your relationships, friendships, a job you love or even your morning coffee. Research shows that gratitude can have positive effects on our state of mind. Through the act of thinking about what we are grateful for, we are able to change how we feel. Start a gratitude journal and take a few minutes to note 1 or 2 things you’re grateful for each day. You can also look back over it when you need an added boost.