How To Handle Holiday Loneliness

12 December 2022

That´s right, holiday season is almost upon us. And with this season, many people tend to feel more lonely than usual. But why do we experience that, when others call it the most wonderful time of the year? And, most importantly, how do we handle our holiday loneliness?

There are multiple reasons why we experience feelings of loneliness during the holiday season. For some of us this time is a painful reminder, some extra salt in the wound, that we are missing someone. Whether we are grieving a loss in the sense of death, distance, break-ups or growing apart, this time of the year symbolizes coming together with those we love. But what if these people are no longer around?

Grief is perhaps one of the most difficult feelings to deal with in life. So how do we approach it in a way that feels soft and realistic at the same time? It all, always, starts with validating whatever it is that you are feeling. Many emotions can occur at the same time. Loss can be a complex thing. We can miss someone yet simultaneously feel relieved we do not have to deal with certain aspects of them. We can really want someone to be there for us, yet be angry and know you should not have them around. Or sometimes, for a little while, we seem to feel nothing. All of the above is okay and perfectly human.Another way to deal with grief during the holiday season is to still include this person in some way or another. Write them a letter (and burn it if you like), listen to their favourite music, visit their grave, do something they would have loved during this time of the year, get creative. Over time we tend to forget the little things about a person, we can even forget their face. Bringing them back in some way might make you feel a bit sad, but at the same time it can spark that connection to them again.

Pressure and expectations are the other troublemakers during this season. Often when Christmas and New Year’s come rolling around the corner we feel there is this expectation to join every experience and have fun. “Oh, these times must be cosy, jolly and nice”. But when we feel like it’s just any other day, when we don’t see any magic happening, when we do not feel the need to be social, suddenly these expectations turn into pressure. And pressure turns into sadness, loneliness or frustration.

The pressure also gets people fairly stressed. Maybe you are the one feeling as though you need to make the holidays perfect for everyone around you. Or maybe you are the bystander who lives in the same environment of the person who strives for this perfection. Either way, you can probably feel the tension in the air.

Again, it is highly important to validate your own emotions and feelings during this time of year. Winter is actually the season in which lots of animals isolate and hibernate. Us, humans, are getting more and more disconnected from nature. However, our rhythm is still in sync with the outer world. Which means that we, as well, crave solitude, peace and quiet during the coldest season of the year.

Another way to deal with the holiday season is to make sure you establish certain boundaries for and with yourself. First, check in with your expectations of the holidays. Are they realistic while still maintaining your mental health? Second, who are you trying to please? Are you looking after yourself enough or are you more worried about what others think and need? Make sure you communicate clearly to yourself and those around you what you need and can do during this time. There is no shame in needing some alone time, less pressure or not wanting to participate in something.

Some of us will be grieving. Some of us will have a marvellous time. Others might dread seeing their families. Others are going to be so glad to finally be reunited with loved ones. Whatever you holidays look like, remind yourself: you can handle it.