The holiday season is here. For some, that means cherishing time with family and friends, but for many, especially those who feel emotionally distant or isolated from others, it’s a time of year that leaves them particularly vulnerable to feelings of loneliness. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we interact with each other and experience events, making the holiday season potentially even more challenging and feelings of loneliness more common. In fact, a 2020 survey found that 70% of people in the U.S. reported feeling various degrees of loneliness heading into last year’s holiday season, with more than 10% reporting extreme loneliness.
Though loneliness is common, how and why people experience it varies widely. Some people may live a happy and healthy life with minimal social interaction, while others may have contact with family and friends and still feel alone. Many factors, like isolation due to the pandemic, the loss of a loved one, and even the weather can increase feelings of loneliness. Those who live alone, the elderly, and those grieving tend to experience loneliness more than others.
Feelings of loneliness can also severely negatively impact your physical and mental wellbeing and put you at risk of developing unhealthy habits. Researchers have said loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging to physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes daily.
It’s important to acknowledge the dynamics in your life that may influence feelings of loneliness so you can take small steps to protect your mental wellbeing. If you’re experiencing feelings of loneliness this holiday season, use these tips to cope in a healthy way:
The holidays can be challenging. Whether you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, isolated from others because of the pandemic, or simply far away from family and friends, there are ways that you can cope with feelings of loneliness and take care of your mental wellbeing. By keeping these tips in mind or sharing them with anyone you feel may be at risk of experiencing loneliness, you can #BeTheDifference for yourself and others this holiday season.
For more information and tips around how to cope during the holiday season , read these blogs from Mental Health First Aid:
Cuncic, A. (2020, November 25). How to Cope When You Are Alone on Thanksgiving. Verywell Mind. Retrieved November 19, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-cope-when-you-are-alone-at-thanksgiving-3024302.
Health Resources & Services Administration. (2019, January). The “Loneliness Epidemic.” Retrieved November 29, 2021, from https://www.hrsa.gov/enews/past-issues/2019/january-17/loneliness-epidemic.
Hurst, A. (2020, November 17). More than 1 in 10 Americans feel extreme loneliness heading into winter holidays, primarily driven by pandemic isolation. ValuePenguin. Retrieved from https://www.valuepenguin.com/coronavirus-causing-holiday-loneliness.
Morava, M., & Andrew, S. (2021, April 17). Loneliness won’t end when the pandemic ends. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/17/us/loneliness-epidemic-covid-wellness-trnd/index.html.
Scott, E. (2020, December 9). Dealing with Loneliness During the Holiday Season. Verywell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/loneliness-and-the-holidays-3144645.
Tartakovsky, M. (2013, December 16). Coping with loneliness during the holidays. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/coping-with-loneliness-during-the-holidays#Seek-company.