The festive season can be an extremely lonely time of year for some of us. Those who aren't surrounded by loved ones can feel even more isolated, and the pressure of the season can exacerbate our already exisiting stresses and struggles, leading to a feeling of complete overwhelm. Turning these negative feelings into positive outcomes is possible, and anyone can learn to survive (and maybe even enjoy) being alone this time of year.
These are a few of our favourite ways to battle the loneliness that can start brewing during the festive season:
Avoid Isolating Yourself Further
When we're feeling down and out, it's tempting to lock ourselves away from the world and wallow in our own dark feelings. Unfortunately this only further isolates us and makes us feel even more alone. Avoid the temptation and get out of bed, get out of the house and start interacting with the big, wide world out there. It'll have a far more positive impact on your mood than shutting yourself off from the world.
Take Up a Hobby
If there's something you've always wanted to try but have never gotten around to it, now is the time! Join a local class or pick up some supplies, park yourself in front of YouTube and get busy learning. Broadening your knowledge and learning a new set of skills is a great use of your time and energy, and will help you to feel more satisfied with how you've spent your time.
Join a Group or Two
Community groups are a great way to expand your circle, fill your days and make your feel more fulfilled. Think about what interests you and search online or in the newspaper to find local groups or clubs that you think you might like to join. Book clubs, walking groups and crafts circles will get you out and about, and mingling with new people, so find out what's happening in your local area.
Self-care is so important every day of the year, but especially during the festive season. Take time out for yourself, practice mindfulness, eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet and exercise regularly. This will leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.
I've long been a fan of the solo date. My theory is - just because you're alone, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on the things you want to do! Schedule some time to take yourself out on a date. Pick a nice venue, dress yourself up and head out on a date for one. It might feel a bit awkward to begin with, so pack a good book and avoid spending the whole time on your phone. After a while, you may begin to love just sitting and watching the world go by just as much as I do.
Because wining and dining yourself isn't enough, set aside some time to pamper your good self! Head off to the salon for a makeover, indulge in a massage or cook yourself all of your most favourite dishes. Whatever it is that makes you feel like a million dollars, do that. 'Tis the season after all!
Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering your time to a good cause doesn't just make you feel good, it also has a positive impact on others. Giving back gives you a sense of meaning and fulfilment that you wouldn't get otherwise. Think about spending time at the local homeless shelter, give your time to a local charity or help out the local animal rescue group. If there's no opportunities in your local area, consider volunteering online with an organisation such as the UN.
Take Care of Someone or Something
Nurturing others gives us an immediate mood boost. Taking care of others is enormously therapeutic and will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Stop by your elderly neighbour's house and ask if there's anything you can help with, offer to dog sit or cat sit for your friends who are heading off on holidays, seek out any opportunities to assist others and you'll find yourself feeling a nice sense of accomplishment.
Explore Somewhere New
Get out of the house and venture somewhere new. If there's a place nearby that you've been meaning to visit, now is a great time to do that. If you have nowhere specific in mind, get searching online and find new places that pique your interest. Wandering around a new place is a great way to distract yourself and you may just stumble across your next favourite hang out spot!
Immerse Yourself in Nature
Head to the local park or go further afield and find yourself a nice quiet spot away from the hustle and bustle. Look for beaches, forests, mountains, lakes or rivers where you can truly switch off. There's perhaps nothing more therapeutic than listening to the birds chirping, the waves crashing, the leaves rustling or just the sound of silence.
Touch base with old friends or strike up a conversation with the local shopkeeper. Whoever it is and whatever the situation, just get talking. Encouraging yourself to converse with others is a sure fire way to kick those feelings of loneliness, so keep an eye out for opportunities to interact with those around you.
Complete Something From Your 'To Do List'
This time of year is a great time to focus on things you wouldn't normally get the chance to, so use your time to tick things off your list. Not only will you have something to focus on, you'll also come away from the holiday season feeling as though you've made progress and taken steps forward. By heading into the new year with less outstanding tasks hanging over your head, you're giving yourself a great head start, and will have you feeling optimistic and enthusiastic.
It can be tempting to spend all of our free time trawling social media but by doing so, chances are you're making yourself feel worse. If you're alone, scrolling past post after post of everyone else celebrating with loved ones will most likely make you feel even more alone. Make a conscious effort to limit your time on social media and use your time in more productive and less dispiriting ways.
Just because you're alone during this time of year, doesn't mean you haven't got reasons to be grateful. Spend a few minutes before you sleep each night to reflect on the positive things in your life, reminisce in the uplifting experiences you've had during the past year, acknowledge the lessons you've learned through the tough times and appreciate the wonderful people that you have in your life. Falling to sleep with positive thoughts filling your mind will allow you to sleep better and wake up with a positive mindset.
Go in Search of Comedy
Nothing lifts your spirits like a good belly laugh. Book a seat at the local comedy club, head to the cinema to see any funny new releases or check out the latest comedies on TV. A good giggle session will leave you feeling great.
Work Around the House
Our house is very much a reflection of how we're feeling. If you're struggling, there's a good chance you've neglected the housework and your place is feeling more like a rubbish dump than a home. It may sound silly but the sense of achievement and satisfaction you feel after tidying up your garden and cleaning up your entire house, is massive. You'll feel more satisfied walking into a nice, clean house and more calm falling asleep in a tidy organised space, so get to tackling that mess already!
The new year is just around the corner so it's time to start thinking about what you want out of the next twelve months. Allow yourself to dream big, then spend time planning those dreams out into smaller, more easily achievable goals so you can keep yourself on track for the long term. Start by making lists. What are your long term goals? What steps do you need to take tomorrow to put you on the right path towards achieving them? Allow yourself to get excited about reaching your goals and use this feeling as motivation in the future when you're feeling less enthusiastic.
Maintain a Healthy Mindset
Mindset is everything. Our mindset determines how we look at life, so you want to make sure you're looking at things in the most healthy way possible. Simply put, maintaining a healthy mindset is just about making a conscious decision time and time again to see things in a positive light.
You can choose to focus on the fact that you're alone, or you can see it as an opportunity to focus wholly on you. You can wallow in self-pity or you can accept that being alone isn't in anyway a failure or a reflection of your self-worth. You can see your loneliness as a reason for you to stop living your life, or you can be excited about the freedom that being alone brings.
No one is immune from feelings of loneliness but the festive season doesn't have to negatively impact you just because you're spending it alone. Minimise the negative feelings you encounter by investing in you and making a conscious effort to approach things with a positive attitude. Choose activities that uplift you and benefit you instead of spending your time focusing on the fact you're on your own.
If you're struggling and need someone to talk to, please contact your local crisis line:
Australia 13 11 14 or 1300 22 4636
New Zealand 1737 or 09 5222 999 (Auckland) or 0800 543 354 (outside of Auckland)
United Kingdom 116 123
United States 1 800 273 8255
Canada 1 833 456 4566