Mental Health

Tips To Cope With Being Alone Over The Holidays

Though the holidays conjure up images of close-knit families and people spending time with their loved ones, this is not quite a reality for many of us. Among the possibilities, it might be that you are single, not in touch with your family, or simply cannot travel home for Christmas this year. 

Dealing with such scenarios, especially in a season which is all about togetherness, can be challenging. It is not surprising that many people report feeling a magnified sense of loneliness during this time of the year.  

"For people who feel lonely already, the holidays can be especially stressful because they’re seeing people connect and sharing time with their loved ones, which makes their own experience of isolation even more pronounced and excruciating," said Kory Floyd, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona.

Even though it seems invisible and insignificant to some, loneliness can be harmful to both mental and physical health. It has been linked to a higher risk of chronic disease, cognitive decline, poor eating habits, excessive dependency on technology, etc.

But making a few changes to your mindset and how you spend your days can help ease loneliness. For starters, prioritize relaxation and avoid succumbing to any external expectations. Whether it comes in the form of people questioning your single status or feeling pressurized to live up to those Instagram-worthy celebrations.

In fact, take a break from social media, if you notice that it often makes you feel worse by inducing a comparison between you and your friends. This varies on an individual basis since some people are able to keep browsing without it having much of an impact on their mental health.

Volunteering can provide the dual benefit of interaction while you help the community. One study from 2017 suggested that even two hours of volunteering per week can do a lot to reduce loneliness.

But if you are unable to leave the house due to circumstances like poor weather, experts suggest engaging your mind in stimulating activities. Try watching a film, reading a book, calling up or facetiming a friend, doing physical exercise, or even just cleaning up the house while listening to music.

Dr. Alok Trivedi, a psychological performance coach, also highlighted the importance of having the right mindset. While it is certainly easier said than done, changing the way you perceive any situation is half the battle won.

"If you find yourself alone, depressed, or stressed out during this time of the year, the first thing you can do is reframe your thinking," he told Bustle. "If you know you're going to be alone during the holidays, see it as a time for solitude, rest and relaxation, and just a break from everything and everyone."