Even the most joyful holiday can be tinged with sadness, and even in a crowd of people, you can still feel entirely alone.
Sometimes the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship happens right before the holidays, and a natural loneliness follows us throughout the season. Other times we might be surrounded by family and friends, but still find ourselves feeling overwhelmed with feeling alone.
Many different factors can contribute to an individual feeling lonely. Some are out of our control, but many are within our scope of ability to change, once we find the root causes.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at how to overcome feeling alone during the holidays, and provide you with a series of the best tips so you can get started today.
Why is overcoming loneliness important?
Some people feel crushed by the weight of loneliness, and they are actively seeking a way to overcome it and build more friendships, build more of a community.
For others, though, loneliness is familiar. Maybe you’ve lived alone for a long time, or you simply have grown accustomed to the feeling of being alone — unhappiness can feel comforting when it’s familiar — and maybe you aren’t convinced anything needs to change.
Chronic feelings of loneliness or consistently keeping yourself isolated or disconnected from others can have a multitude of consequences on our mental and physical health.
Loneliness can lead to increased stress levels, a weakened immune system, poor sleep patterns and a much higher risk of developing cancer and other serious conditions.
Social isolation dramatically increases a person’s risk of premature death, on the same levels as those chronically smoking cigarettes and those struggling with obesity.
A lack of social relationships and interaction increases your risk of heart disease by 29 percent, stroke by 32 percent, and dementia by almost more than 50 percent. Emergency department visits, hospitalization, prescription substance abuse and heart failure are all associated with isolation and loneliness.
How do you fight loneliness?
It would be beneficial for you to honestly (but empathetically) perform an assessment of your life and what factors are contributing to your loneliness.
For example, are you in a new city and you feel lonely because you haven’t made any new friends yet? Get a housemate, join a Facebook group, volunteer locally — get involved in your new community so you can begin fostering your community.
Maybe you’ve been living in this city for several decades, and you’ve become comfortable living a routine that doesn’t involve a lot of social interaction. Get outside of your comfort zone, put in the effort to strengthen old friendships, be open to building new friendships, and serve others.
It’s also important to assess your quality of mental, emotional and physical health. For instance, if there are unhealed wounds that are causing you to subconsciously isolate yourself, you may find a lot of healing and solace in working with a therapist.
The foods we eat, as well, directly impact the health of our mind and brain. Depression, anxiety, dementia, loneliness, all of these conditions are linked to inflammation in the body, which often develops from a poor diet (alcohol, sugar, refined carbs like pasta and bread, vegetable oils).
Tackling loneliness can feel overwhelming, but it’s not as impossible as it might feel. We’re just a message away if you’d like to speak with a professional to help you work through this.
How to foster joy during the holidays
The beauty about joy is it’s not something you “find,” it’s something you choose.
Here are some of the best ways you can foster joy throughout the holidays:
Practice gratitude at the start and end of each day
Have a plan for how to take care of yourself on the rough days
Put events on your calendar that you’re genuinely excited about
Engage more with others (even if that’s the cashier at the store!)
Volunteer at a charity you believe in
Reconnect with (or be sure to stay connected to) your loved ones
Join a Facebook group and attend local events with new people
Create your solo holiday traditions
It’s also important to recognize the difference between a natural sadness (such as if you’ve lost a loved one), the “holiday blues,” and the symptoms of a more serious condition.
If you think you may be suffering from a mental health or substance abuse issue, we’re here to help.
Speak with an advisor today about loneliness
Here at Tapestry Recovery, it’s our mission and our passion to help you live your healthiest life, not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well.
To speak with a member of our team and learn more about which of our services may be the right fit for you, send us a message or give us a call today at 828-490-4032.