What To Do When You Feel Lonely During The Holidays

Let’s face it: the holidays can be stressful with or without the pressure of quarantine, lockdown, and state regulations altering your holiday plans.

By Gwen Farrell3 min read
Shutterstock/Bohemian soul

If you find yourself alone for the holidays, or at least not where you thought you’d be, that’s okay. The season will look extremely different for many of us this year, but thankfully, we don’t have to let it get the best of us.

Here are a few small but meaningful things you can consider if you find yourself feeling lonely this holiday season. 

Acknowledge Your Circumstances

The holidays always somehow manage to sneak up on us, and so does the anxiety it often seems to induce in a lot of people.

It seems tempting to sit around and be in your feels, as they say. But there’s an important distinction between healthy sadness and self-pity, and when our sadness over our situation trespasses into self-pity, we could wind up making ourselves feel worse.

When our sadness over our situation trespasses into self-pity, we wind up making ourselves feel worse.

My grandmother used to say, wherever you are, there you are. Plainly put, it means for reasons, often not of our own making, we’re in places or points in our lives that we don’t necessarily appreciate. You might be unable to fly home this holiday season, or maybe your loved ones you usually spend time with are quarantining. There’s a heap of other reasons why this year more than others is not really looking the way any of us thought it would. 

And that’s okay. Things don’t have to be better or even worse just because they’re automatically different. Accept your situation and where you are, and then reframe it. One simple reframing trick is to change “have to” to “get to.” It makes you think about what’s good in your situation and helps you to find something to be grateful for. 

Be Kind to Yourself

Just because you’ve accepted your situation doesn’t mean you have to pretend like everything’s fine. Connection and interaction are inherent human needs that are integral to our health and happiness. Sadness and loneliness are therefore a very appropriate reaction to when we become separated from those necessities. 

You don’t have to pretend like everything’s fine. 

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is also a natural feeling around the holiday season. Our social media feeds and other content we consume is chock full of charming ads and commercials of close families and friends coming together, and it’s hard not to feel envious when we don’t have the same to look forward to.

If you find this year that you’re not feeling like yourself or not as energetic and excited as you usually are about the holidays, that’s okay. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, but there are things we can do to feel better about this time, and being considerate and kind to ourselves is the first step. 

Find Other Ways To Connect

Just because we’re physically separated from loved ones doesn’t mean we have to be completely separated from them, and we have technology to thank for that. Social media and video calling with friends and family is probably the easiest way to feel connected.

Video call with family and friends to feel connected.

But if we find ourselves more isolated than we usually are, we can look for different and unique ways to connect, whether it's with coworkers, neighbors, acquaintances, or even a barista or grocery store cashier. 

Finding small connections throughout our day can be a new way to interact with others, and if they’re ones we haven’t considered or thought of before, trying them can make that interaction all the more meaningful. 

Create New Traditions

All traditions start somewhere, and this could be the year you begin one that might stay with you for the rest of your life.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and never has that adage been more appropriate when it comes to getting creative with making holiday plans in 2020. Whether it’s watching a classic movie, trying your hand at an impressive dish, or making crafts and decorating, there are many different ways we can celebrate the holidays in new ways by incorporating old favorites. 

Who knows, you might find a tradition you can’t live without and carry it with you next year. 

Give Back

Loneliness is the worst, but when we look around and consider our blessings, there’s always a chance we might take for granted what others are missing. Thankfully, there are tons of ways to volunteer your time and energy (and distract yourself) by giving back, either to loved ones near and far, or even to strangers.

You can start by writing notes, letters, or sending Christmas cards to friends and family. This is personally one of my family’s favorite holiday pastimes, and we start by making a list of people we’d like to send a card to, then writing a personalized message to them. You can even get creative with the craftiness of it, and your message in the mail can be a sweet surprise for whoever you’re sending it to. 

Look into your community and see who needs help.

Take the time to really look into your community and what they’re up to during the season. You might find a food bank or homeless shelter that could really use your help during the busiest time of the year. You might even connect with other individuals who are also feeling the holiday blues.

When all else fails, give virtually. If you’re financially able to, set aside some funds and make a budget and a list of charities or places that could use your donation. Like a Christmas card, it shows you care and the person on the other end will definitely benefit. 

Closing Thoughts

The holiday season is normally an exciting time to look forward to, but this year, it’s completely understandable not to feel merry and bright if we’re facing something different and unexpected.

While it’ll be hard for a lot of us, there’s also something to be said for unknown possibilities and new ways of doing things. In many instances, the unexpected can turn out to be some of the best things that ever happen to us.

There’s enough magic in the season and holiday spirit for everyone. Sometimes it’s just a matter of creating our own magic and remembering that even with or without our friends and family, the ones who love us never leave us — and that the excitement of the season that makes it so special from all the others is for everyone to share, even if we’re alone.