Driving through town this time of year, you can’t miss that it’s all aglow with everyone’s unique version of holiday decorating. Whether Christmas trees glow in living rooms, twinkling orbs of color along roof lines, or yards sprouting with every lighted blow-up imaginable, it truly takes on the image of a winter wonderland! And yet, with all the extra light shining forth, it seems like the darkest time of the year for you. And you are left struggling with a sense of loneliness during the holidays.
The irony is you might even live in one of those houses with a Christmas tree shining out of the front window. And maybe you put it up because it was the expected thing to do at this time of year. Nevertheless even though your tree shines brightly, you feel you live amid the darkness.
Expectations can be a killer
You know that the expectation of the holiday season should bring about a sense of connection with family and friends — complete with beautiful decorations, friends gathering around crackling fires, laughing and bonding with family. But, it’s just not your reality. Instead, your sense of loneliness during the holidays feels overwhelming to you, and if you could, you would hibernate for the whole month of December.
Feeling lonely can make you dread the holiday season more than any other time of year. And watching everyone else (or so it can seem) connect with their loved ones makes your feeling of emotional isolation even more pronounced.
Reasons for loneliness
The reasons for this loneliness can vary but possibly could stem from the loss of a loved one either through death, divorce, separation by long distance, or other circumstances. Or, perhaps the thought of getting to know people makes you uncomfortable. Whatever the case may be, the struggle is real in dealing with loneliness and sadness this time of year.
You might feel that you are alone in your feelings. You are not! Many people deal with loneliness and sadness through the holidays. It is actually quite common. And while you might not be able to rearrange your life to match your imagination of a perfect holiday, you can feel better by learning to approach the season differently. Therefore, I offer some suggestions on how to deal with the loneliness so that you can make your Christmas holiday a little more merrier.
5 Steps To Deal With Loneliness During The Holidays
- SEEK OUT COMPANY – Loneliness feeds on itself and can overwhelm you if you are not careful. So, the best way to deal with it is to override the instinct to isolate yourself. Call a close friend or family member and go out for coffee or go shopping. Push yourself to get out in society or attend holiday celebrations.
- VOLUNTEER – Many charitable causes and events provide services to the less fortunate, especially during the holidays. Serving others in need often helps you switch from being inward to outward-focused. It may also help you to realize that your situation might not be as bad as you think. Helping to make the season merrier for others in need can bring about a sense of fulfillment and happiness in your own life.
- DON’T PLAY THE COMPARISON GAME – When you feel lonely, comparing your situation with everyone else can be easy but also problematic. “TRUST ME,” no one is experiencing the perfect Hallmark holiday season. What you see on TV is a make-believe (and very unrealistic), always happy-ending storyline. You don’t see the actors’ real personalities or the ups and downs of their personal lives. And those Facebook pictures? Just know most of them are edited and polished versions.
- HONOR YOUR FEELINGS – Having experienced a loss or dealt with exceptionally hurtful situations in the past, feelings of loneliness or sadness are normal responses to what you have been through. Permit yourself to feel those feelings. However, I would like to add that if you can’t sometimes separate yourself from those feelings and instead find yourself engulfed by them, it could indicate a problem.
- SHIFT YOUR FOCUS – Try redirecting your thoughts to what you do have instead of what you don’t have. Sometimes, you feel incomplete and unfulfilled because you forget to acknowledge any of the blessings and opportunities that have come your way in the last year. Changing your mindset can go a long way in easing those negative feelings of loneliness and unhappiness.
“A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone.” —Mandy Hale
I hope you find these suggestions valuable for coping with your loneliness and unhappiness during this season of merriment and the days beyond. However, suppose you continue to struggle with profound loneliness. In that case, working with a coach is an excellent way to learn and develop coping skills that can help manage unhealthy emotions.
Hi, I’m Kris Henderson. I want you to know that I am here to help. Please contact me or schedule your phone call today. Let’s explore your feelings and work towards finding some light to overcome any darkness.
This article originally appeared on Counseling Solutions of West Michigan.