People may choose to spend Christmas on their own of course, despite feeling lonely. But others may be alone for other reasons – reasons that are beyond either their choice or control. They may find socialising just too stressful to cope with for example. You may be struggling with social anxiety, live far from relatives or be new to a town and not have many friends. Feeling isolated and lonely may also then prevent you from being motivated to engage with others and get involved in community events and gatherings.
Another reason for isolation, loneliness and unhappiness at Christmas could be due to having experienced trauma, bereavement or a relationship break-up. It’s important to know that you don’t have to go through this on your own. There are many organisations that can help you make connections, and I’ve included a list at the end of this article.
How to avoid focusing on loneliness
- Don’t exclude yourself: Go out as you may miss out on serendipitous moments that could change your life!
- Make Christmas purposeful: Consider volunteering to a cause or a community event, or find out about local be-friending schemes. It will help you find value and meaning during the festive season.
- Give time to people around you who are not necessarily significant in your life: Extending acts of kindness or even small gifts will be re-paid twofold when you see their surprised faces and happy responses.
- Simplify your life: Focus on what you do have and avoid the pressure of filling Christmas with ‘stuff’.
Millennials at Christmas
When we think of Christmas and loneliness, we usually imagine the elderly or the homeless suffering the most. However, the level of loneliness experienced by people aged between 22-36 is surprisingly high. Millennials also struggle - not only with feelings of isolation, but also with stress and anxiety due to the extra pressure to be happy and to create the perfect vision of the ideal Christmas.
Not only is this linked with their burden of financial stress, but they’re also dealing with the mental strain of exacerbating symptoms of depression, low mood, panic attacks, insomnia and even negative thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
Caring tips to support Millennials this festive season
- Avoid over-indulging with alcohol or drugs and pay attention to steer away from a poor diet as all can worsen existing mental health symptoms.
- Avoid comparing yourselves with your peers, particularly given the influence of social media. This will help you cope with the pressurizing feeling that Christmas is taking you over.
- Spend quality time with members of your family and friends; be there for them in real time and let them be there for you. Make small talk, and spend time listening without judgement. In other words, allow others to get to know who you really are.
Web of loneliness
Online community and website which provides information and tips on loneliness.
helpline: 116 123
24-hour support for anyone in distress or despair.
Contact the Elderly
0800 716 543
Social activities for people over 75 with little or no social support.
Website that allows you to find face-to-face groups of people in and around your community.
Website advertising volunteering opportunities
Database of local volunteer centres.