The winter holidays have a prominent place in American culture. Movies, advertisements, and incessant Christmas music on the radio bombard us with the holiday spirit, not-so-casually reminding you that it’s time to be cheerful.
For many of us, this cheer is welcomed and easy to capture. But for a lot of people – even those with friends and family – the holidays can be a lonely and depressing time of year. It’s also not that uncommon: a survey from the AARP (notably including younger people) indicated that 31% of respondents have felt lonely during the holidays.
So why can this be such a triggering time? And what can you do about it?
Why Can the Holidays Be Lonely?
Holidays can bring a strong sense of yearning. As we’re flooded with images of happy families and lovers, we’re reminded of things we might not have. Similar to Valentine’s Day, single people can have a pretty hard time on Christmas.
Christmas can also be very lonely for those who are physically isolated. Being thousands of miles from family and friends – exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic – can be emotionally painful.
What Can You Do?
The most important part of combating loneliness is self-care. During the holidays, a lot of that comes with tempering your expectations. Holiday images emphasize perfect families, perfect relationships, perfect celebrations. The reality is that no one has this luxury. When you understand that, it becomes possible to cultivate gratitude for what we do have. It’s easier said than done, but it’s worth practicing.
Charity and giving are also part of the spirit of Christmas, and doing something for others can feel very gratifying. Consider sponsoring a community organization or project, such as buying gifts for underprivileged families in your area. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry. Knowing that you’ve made someone else’s holidays brighter can give you a sense of purpose that goes a long way towards combating loneliness.
While it can flare up at Christmas, loneliness is something that affects people year-round. If you or someone you love experiences depression or loneliness, therapy can help! Azevedo Family Psychology is happy to offer therapy to patients around the Triangle. Contact us today: you deserve to be happy.