I always look forward to Christmas and I am fortunate to spend it with the people who ae important to me. But for many, the anxiety created by a lonely Christmas can be hard to bear.
So if you're in that situation this Christmas, what things might you consider to get you through?
1. Reach out to an old friend
Think of someone you haven't heard from for years. Send them a text, pick up the phone, call them on Zoom. This could really promote wellbeing for both of you.
2. Have an honest conversation about your feelings
Start by being honest with yourself. How are you feeling about this? Speak to trusted members of your family, your friends or a work colleague. They may offer help, or even give you an invite. But at the very least, it will be a problem shared and a weight off your mind to tell someone else. Talking Works.
3. Discover the world outside your window and exercise
We have said that Talking Works, but I also would say Walking Works! Go outside, use what little daylight there is and find somewhere to have a good, long walk. Perhaps you can go somewhere new, or somewhere you have always wanted to visit? Even going outside at night to see the Christmas Lights around your neighbourhood can be a lovely experience. If you feel more energetic, how about a run?
4. Read a really good book
Is there a book you have been wanting to read for a while? Time to pick it up. If you struggle with reading, how about an audiobook?
5. Aim to talk to at least one person every day over the festive period
As well as people close to you, it could be anyone else - have a walk and say hello to people you pass, talk to someone in a local shop, pop round to say hello to a neighbour.
6. Meet your friends online, or join an online social group
Zoom is a great place to meet. Get your friends or family together for an online quiz. Join an online group - whether that's something sedate, or something more active like dance or yoga, there are lots of online opportunities out there.
You could join even in with Sarah Millican's annual #JoinIn campaign on Twitter. Running on Christmas Day, this connects people who could do with some company on Christmas Day.
If you have some spare time over the Christmas holidays, why not look into local organisations and community groups that might need some extra help?
Mind recommends volunteering as a positive way to make you feel good, by knowing you're helping others, as well as allowing you to meet and chat to new people which can help alleviate the feeling of isolation. They suggest the do-it website which lists volunteer positions near your postcode.
8. Find a great box set
Netflix is a fantastic place to get lost for a while! Whether it's a good film, sci-fi, drama or comedy, there's always a box set for you out there. And if that's not your bag, how about a console game?
9. Say Yes!
It's surprising how many things people invite us to do, and we say no - for whatever reason. Practice saying yes for a change. I remember spending a few days in Los Angeles on my own once, so I posted on my facebook "Any ideas for things to do in LA?". I made a pact with myself that I would say "yes" to all suggestions. It was a great and very empowering experience. You don't have to be in LA to try it!
Ultimately, Christmas is a time to indulge in whatever makes you happy. Have a happiness toolbox at the ready. You might need it.
If you need to speak to someone, there are helplines available over Christmas. I would recommend the Samaritans on 116 123. Other useful contacts are shown in the image (click to enlarge).
What it is important to remember is that the above suggestions are largely behavioural and deal with the symptoms of loneliness. They divert you from the causes of loneliness and the emotional issues you may be experiencing. To deal with these issues on a deeper level, I would suggest counselling and psychotherapy. If you need some of that long term help, get in touch with me at Talking Works to discuss how I can help you. You can book a free consultation by using the links above this page.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas this year.
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