For many of us, the holiday season is a time of joy, family time, and closeness. However, for millions of people worldwide, this holiday season will be much different from any before.

With social distancing, travel bans, and lockdown becoming commonplace worldwide, many people won’t be able to travel home, see their families, and spend time with loved ones this year.

So, it is normal if you feel anxious about holidays and feelings of loneliness, isolation, sadness that may come along. Before this new, pandemic-normal, most of our holiday stress used to spin around holiday schedules, last-minute errands, gift shopping, entertaining, and spending time with our families. The things we once used to dread turned out to be something we long for this year.

The holiday season can be particularly challenging if you have recently lost a loved one and you’re still grieving. Holidays only increases the feeling of loss, and the sorrow and loneliness feel more profound. So, it is expected that you feel blue about the upcoming holiday season. But you will get through it. Here are a few strategies to boost your spirit and deal with loneliness during the holiday season.

The things we once used to dread turned out to be something we long for this year.

1. Make Self-Care Your Priority

Taking a break from endless shopping, partying, and entertaining friends and family doesn’t have to be depressing. Use this time to relax and do things you enjoy.

Start your days with a mindfulness exercise. Both science and practice have proven the benefits of meditation and relaxation. Techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, guided imagery, or yoga can help you relax, feel calm, and deal with stress, anxiety, and loneliness.

Mindfulness meditation can help you become aware of your negative thoughts that trigger profound loneliness and isolation. The practice of being present in the moment can help you acknowledge such thoughts and then calmly let them go.

Besides, mindfulness practice has the power to boost your optimism and raise resilience by reducing the activity in the amygdala, part of the brain responsible for stress responses. So, reducing the amygdala’s activity, mindfulness decreases the levels of stress and anxiety.

Stick to healthy sleep habits. Restful sleep can strengthen your immune system, reduce anxiety and depression, and boost your resilience.

Exercise regularly. Physical activity stimulates the production of the powerful neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and endorphins), also known as natural pain relievers or ‘hormones of happiness.’ These neurotransmitters generate new cells and connections in our brain, similarly to what antidepressant medicament therapy does.

Eat healthily. Studies show that a Mediterranean-style diet that involves fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and olive oil promotes physical and mental well-being.

Connect with nature. If you are not strictly ordered to stay at home, spend time outdoors whenever you can, respecting social distancing rules. Even if it is spending time on your balcony, connecting with nature can help you relax and reduce anxiety and loneliness.

2. Stay Connected with Friends and Family

This holiday season, many of us will virtually invite family members and friends into our homes. Social distancing doesn’t mean we should avoid social interaction altogether. To reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation during holidays, use technology and apps to stay in touch with loved ones. Socializing, even in digital space, will improve your mood and help protect your mental health.

3. Seek Support

If you feel that loneliness during the holiday season is too much to bear on your own, seek out mental health counseling. To respect social distancing rules, you may want to consider online counseling options.

E-counseling is within reach from your computer or smartphone at any given time but no less effective than traditional in-office counseling. Psychotherapy and counseling can help you work through feelings of sadness, isolation, fear, or anxiety, teach you strategies for coping with stress, and help you overcome the crisis.

4. Join Online Communities

If you feel lonely and isolated during the holiday season, reach out to websites or chatrooms where you can socialize with people who share your interests or experiences. Join some online chat rooms (communities gathered around a specific topic) and speak to people in the community.

This holiday season might feel a bit lonelier and gloomy, but life doesn’t stop here. Hopefully, things will start getting back close to what we remember as normal in all life areas. Loneliness during the holiday season might make us more conscious of how delicate life is, motivating us to feel more grateful for simple life pleasures and people in our lives.

Don’t forget that we are all in this together, so none of us is truly alone. Wishing you a safe and peaceful Holiday season!

Share This Post