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Alone for the Holidays: A Note to Those Feeling Isolated

Updated Dec 21


The holiday season is a time usually thought of as a time of joy and sharing with others. However, this is not necessarily everyone’s experience. Sometimes it is geographical, other times it is a loss, or maybe it is something else. Regardless, the emotional toll of isolation during this festive period can be profound. As social creatures we can feel an intense sense of loneliness particularly when there is a social opportunity we miss out on (Hawkley & Cacioppo, 2010), such as the holidays. The purpose of this post is to validate and give insight on the psychological impacts of being alone during the holidays, as well as provide some strategies and resources that one can have in their toolkit during challenges experienced during this time of year.

 

Understanding the Emotional Impact

 

Acknowledging Feelings

Being alone during the holiday season can trigger several emotions, including anxiety, depression, and loneliness. It is important to acknowledge and validate these feelings both to others and to oneself without judgement. This form of acceptance is important in regulating those negative emotions. 

 

Shifting Perspectives

Sometimes it is all about mindset and perspective. Shift your focus away from what is lacking, and instead embrace the opportunity for self-reflection, personal growth, and the chance to create new traditions that cater to your unique preferences and desires (Chittaro & Vianello, 2014).

 

Coping Strategies

 

Self-Care Rituals

Establishing a routine for self-care can significantly impact emotional well-being. Self-care can take many forms. The basics include eating well and getting adequate rest. However, it is also important to incorporate activities that bring a sense of joy and relaxation. Mindfulness meditation, reading, finding something on television, podcasts, engaging in creative hobbies, and other self-soothing and self-nurturing rituals can be useful if you are going solo this holiday season. 

 

Virtual Connections

Technology has come a long way over the years. Perhaps you can connect with loved ones virtually.  Explore the idea of scheduling regular video calls, organizing virtual holiday gatherings, or engaging in online games to create a sense of togetherness despite physical separation. Maintaining and strengthening relationships through virtual means is a great way to feel connected.

 

Volunteering and Acts of Kindness

Shift the focus outward and give back to the community. Volunteering or performing acts of kindness not only contributes positively to society but also provides a sense of purpose and connection (Diener & Seligman, 2002). The act of helping others can be a powerful antidote to feelings of isolation and can contribute to a meaningful and fulfilling holiday experience.

 

Mindful Reflection

Mindfulness is another useful tool. Perhaps use this time as an opportunity of reflection. Exercises such as journaling, creating vision boards, or creating intentions for the upcoming year can be therapeutic. This will facilitate self-discovery and help to constructively channel your emotions and thoughts introspectively.

 

Resources

 

Sometimes it is helpful to have support when navigating loneliness. Included are some resources that can be a starting point to finding your way.  One option is connecting with a mental health professional. Maybe the loneliness, depression, or anxiety is hitting a high point. It is never a bad thing to seek help. You may find the blog post Finding Your Therapisthelpful. As it includes direct resources for getting connected. Another option is looking into local groups. I encourage you to look into some local groups in your area that align with your hobbies and interests. Meet Up (meetup.com) is a great first place to look. You can also look into community centers and volunteer opportunities.

 

Being alone during the holidays doesn't have to equate feeling isolated or overwhelmed. By understanding and acknowledging emotions, adopting strategies to reduce emotional burden, and utilizing available resources, individuals can not only navigate this period with resilience but also find moments of joy and self-discovery. The holiday season, when approached with intention and self-compassion, can become an opportunity for personal growth, fostering connections, and embracing the spirit of giving—both to oneself and to others.

 

I hope whatever you are experiencing this holiday season, you are able to find passion, personal love, and a sense of peace.



References and Resources Consulted:


Brooks, M., Hart, W., & Goldstein, S. (2012). Brief mindfulness induction could reduce aggression after depletion. Consciousness and Cognition, 21(1), 396–403. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2011.12.010

 

Chittaro, L., & Vianello, A. (2014). Computer-mediated communication, self-disclosure, and satisfaction with life among young digital natives. Computers in Human Behavior, 38, 392–402. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.06.008

 

Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2002). Very happy people. Psychological Science, 13(1), 81–84. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.00415

 

Hawkley, L. C., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2010). Loneliness Matters: A Theoretical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 40(2), 218–227. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-010-9210-8

 

Mize, J. L. (October, 2023). Finding Your Therapist. Inner Odyssey Blog. Retreived from https://www.innerodysseycounseling.com/post/finding-your-therapist

 

Soni, R., Upadhyay, R., & Jain, M. (2019). Therapeutic potential of mindfulness meditation in clinical psychology. Cureus, 11(2), e4103. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.4103

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