The holiday season is over, and often that can bring with it surprising or intense feelings of post-holiday blues. Sure, we may have just spent cherished time with family and friends, but now life goes “back to normal,” or whatever things looked like before. For many, especially those of us who feel emotionally distant or isolated, this is a time of year that leaves us 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 this year’s season potentially even more challenging and feelings of loneliness even more common.
Though loneliness is common, how and why people experience it varies widely. Some people may live a full life with minimal social interaction, while others may be around family and friends and still feel alone. Many factors, like isolation, 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 to a deeper degree.
If you find yourself feeling the post-holiday blues, that’s completely normal. 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.
6 tips to cope with loneliness in a healthy way:
1. Practice self-care. Focus on taking special care of yourself these next few weeks. While it may not completely erase feelings of loneliness, taking special care of yourself can help you to feel better. Take time to engage in healthy habits like exercising, getting enough sleep, and eating nutritiously. Pursue activities that you enjoy, even if you don’t totally feel inspired. That might include reading a good book, relaxing with a warm bath, learning something new, or devoting time to a favorite hobby. Good self-care habits can lift your spirits and give your mind something to focus on.
2. Remember that you’re not alone in this feeling. It’s okay to feel isolated after (or even during) the holidays, and you are not alone. While it doesn’t necessarily feel good, and in fact can be very uncomfortable, it’s okay to feel this way. Talking to others who may share your feelings can help you feel less alone in your situation. If you feel uncomfortable and burdened by feelings of loneliness and find it challenging to deal with, consider talking to a professional about how you feel.
3. Redefine your expectations. Many people have high expectations for this time of year. The absence of a romantic partner or a close family seems magnified when we’re all supposed to be going to parties, exchanging gifts, and enjoying jolly feelings. But no matter what society tells us, that’s simply not true for everyone – and that’s okay. Focus on the good things you have in your life instead of comparing yourself to how you think you “should” be celebrating. Social media can create significant amounts of stress in this area, so do your best to count your blessings instead of comparing yourself to others and the lives they portray online.
4. Reach out to people around you. If you feel isolated, make it a priority to work on your relationships with others. Exchange friendly words with neighbors or coworkers. Write holiday cards to loved ones. Call or video chat old acquaintances. Attend a holiday event. Connecting with others strengthens bonds and can help you feel less lonely. Engaging in fun or exciting activities will also turn your focus from negative thoughts and allow you to focus on building a supportive network.
5. Cultivate Gratitude. There are many far-reaching benefits to practicing gratitude. One easy antidote to feelings of lack is to cultivate feelings of gratitude for what you have; it’s hard to focus on both at once. If you’re feeling a lack of love in your life, make a concerted effort to focus on the love that you do have—from friends, family, neighbors, church family, and pets. You can also focus on things you really value in your life like your work, hobbies, or even your potential. Maintaining a gratitude journal can be a wonderful exercise in cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Better still, it can leave you with a written record of everything you have to value in your life to read through when you’re feeling down.
6. Give back to your community. Volunteering to support a cause you believe in is a great way to feel less lonely during the holidays (or any other time). Soup kitchens, animal shelters, or organizations such as Toys for Tots are all excellent volunteer options this time of year. You could reach out to your church to see if others want to join you as well! You can also reach out to neighbors or friends who are experiencing hardship, maybe leave them a small gift or cookies. These experiences can also help cultivate gratitude!.
The post-holiday blues 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 and sharing them with anyone you feel may be at risk of experiencing loneliness, you can share God’s love for yourself and others this season.
If you feel burdened by feelings of loneliness and find them difficult to deal with, consider talking to a professional about how you feel; seeking professional support can often be incredibly helpful at this time of year, and any other time! If you’re interested in counseling with us, our front office team is standing by to help match you with a counselor!
Author: Danielle atkinson
Danielle Atkinson is an amazing Christian counselor on our team here in Colorado Springs. She meets with individuals who are navigating life experiences, or those who are processing through anxiety, depression or loneliness. If you’re interested in counseling with Danielle or another one of our other amazing counselors, please reach out to us!