• Few or No Friends

Feeling lonely? 14 Tips for getting over the holiday hump

Published: December 6, 2015 | Last Updated: January 9, 2016 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
Snowflake (Source: Wikipedia, L. Dakota)

Snowflake (Source: Wikipedia, L. Dakota)

From the archives of The Friendship Blog – a version of this post by The Friendship Doctor was previously published on the blog and on The Huffington Post but seemed just as relevant this year!

The holiday season can be depressing if you are feeling lonely or dispirited while everyone else seems joyous and happy. But you are not alone: Many others have no friends or family nearby, or feel disconnected and estranged from the people around them — or else I wouldn’t be writing this post!

Family ties, like friendships, are often imperfect. People tend to disappoint each other — especially under stress, and when expectations run as high as they do at this time of year. And what appears enviable on the outside may not be as appealing if you were able to peel off the layers and peek inside.

Keep things in perspective. The decorations will come down, stores will soon start preparing for President’s Day and it will be back to business as usual before you know it. While no advice can take away pain, if you’re feeling down, I hope that at least one of these 14 crowd-sourced ideas will resonate with you and help you over the holiday hump:

  1. Start a new project

Start small and simple so you don’t feel overwhelmed. It can be something that can be done in a few hours (organizing that messy hall closet or cleaning an appliance), or maybe one that’ll take several months to complete, like slowly learning a new language online. Whether or not you even finish, there’s no better feeling than the anticipation of starting something new that excites you.

  1. Lighten your load 

Spend a few hours getting rid of things you don’t need that might be gifts to others. Gather clothes and household objects you no longer use or need and arrange for a pickup by an organization like Goodwill or Purple Heart. Giving and de-cluttering are both feel-good activities.

  1. Have a song in your heart? 

On Christmas or New Year’s Day, turn on a radio or other device to play seasonal music and then sing along as loud as you can. There’s no wrong way to sing a Christmas carol or “Auld Lang Syne” or even Elvis’ “Blue Christmas.” You’ll be smiling before you know it!

  1. Compose a gratitude list

Aim for a list that includes at least 10 things. If the list includes people in your life, share your appreciation by telling them they made the list! You’ll get the double benefit: Realizing you have these things to be grateful for and making someone else’s day when they receive your surprise note.

  1. Plan a movie excursion 

Take yourself out to the year’s Big Movie on Christmas or New Year’s Day. There are always new releases over the holidays and theaters tend to be less crowded. Don’t feel self-conscious about going by yourself. Just bring a magazine or e-reader to keep occupied before the movie starts. Once the movie is over, turn to the person next to you and make a positive remark. It’s nice to connect with someone over a shared experience.

  1. Attend a Blue Christmas service 

For more than a decade, churches around the nation have been scheduling Blue Christmas services on the day with the least amount of light; this year, the winter solstice falls on Saturday, December 21. The services are often somber and ecumenical, using candles to acknowledge that many are experiencing pain, loneliness or grief. You can Google the term Blue Christmas Services to see if any are being held in your community.

  1. Catch up on the latest shows 

Is there a TV series that you’ve missed that everyone else is talking about? Get the series from Netflix or your cable provider and watch consecutive episodes over the course of several days. Doing so will also have the benefit of providing you with conversation fodder for connecting with people after the holidays.

  1. Dig into a book 

You’re never alone when reading. Pick out a new book or a cherished favorite at your library or local bookstore. Brew a cup of your favorite beverage and set aside some hours to get lost in a good story. Ask the librarian or bookstore owner about the best books in your favorite genre. If you can’t get out, you can search for Best Books 2015 on the Internet.

  1. Write it down 

Writing is a creative pastime, and it’s been said that everyone has a book in them. But if the thought of writing a whole book is too daunting, why not start with a poem? There’s something nice about the freedom of a poem, and thinking in images and metaphors takes you away from you the blahs of a boring or lonely day. If you aren’t into poetry, take the time to write a thoughtful response to one of the reader posts on this blog.

  1. Plan time in the kitchen 

Have a yen for cooking? Browse through recipe books or recipes online and stock up on the ingredients you need to prepare a favorite dish, dessert or meal.

  1. Get active 

Don’t feel like you need to be a prisoner in your own home. Get outside, take a walk and breathe the fresh air. Maybe you will be lucky enough to catch a few rays of sun. Brisk physical activity can buoy your spirits. If you like to ski, the slopes are often empty on Christmas morning.

  1. Volunteer to help someone else 

Check into opportunities in your community to help people who are worse off than you, but don’t wait until the very last minute. Is there a shelter, soup kitchen or food pantry in your community that needs help over the holidays? Check with Goodwill, Salvation Army or other local religious organizations, police or fire departments.

  1. Find someone else who will be alone, too 

Craving company? Surely, there’s a colleague at work or neighbor who is likely to be spending time alone too. Perhaps you could plan to do something together. You can check out Meetup.com (searchable by zip code) to see if any other people are planning activities during the holidays.

  1. More than down in the dumps? 

The holidays can be especially difficult if you are suffering from depression or getting over a loss. If you are really having a hard time, reach out for help.

If you don’t want to burden people you know, a free 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) is available to people in crisis at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are routed to local crisis centers. In the UK or Ireland, Samaritans offers confidential support at 08457 90 90 90. (More than 227,000 people called the Samaritans hotline last Christmas Day.)

And if you are lucky…

If you aren’t the one feeling blue over the holidays but know someone else who is likely to be feeling that way, be sensitive and don’t overdo the merriment and good cheer.

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Category: Coping with loneliness, HAVING NO FRIENDS

Comments (7)

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  1. Eli says:

    A trip somewhere can be a real sanity saver during difficult holidays. I highly recommend it.

  2. Cathy says:

    Holidays are especially difficult. Planning to be different this year.

  3. jacqueline says:

    This is excellent, Irene. I saved it in my favourites!

    The start of a new year is a time for many of us to start fresh…A clean slate….Look ahead instead of behind us.

    Maybe even get around to that Bucket List!

    I wish us all health, peace, and happiness.

    Thank-you for this site, Irene. I have met some amazing women here. They have been supportive, non-judgmental, and have become like a little family to me.

  4. Someone says:

    Awesome lists. I’ll add that flights are very cheap on Christmas day, so use that day to start your vacation somewhere exciting and new. Travel is a balm for the soul.

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