Feeling Alone for the Holidays?
By: Dr. Julie Sorenson, DMFT, MA, LPC
Images of Happy Families Flood our Visual Worlds
Loneliness can happen throughout the year. However, many people report feelings of loneliness triggered during the holiday season. Holidays create a sense of longing to belong. Happy families and friends participating in holiday fun encompasses our illustrated world through movies, social media, advertisements, and posters at the mall and grocery stores.
Especially during the holidays, people assume that other people have more exciting lives, and get caught up in the unrealistic notion that everyone is always happy. Remember that most people don’t post their day-to-day lives on Facebook, Instagram, For Real, Tik Tok. Usually, the posts are shared when people have done something that brings joy or has been a unique experience.
You Get to Choose Your Happiness
Remember you aren’t alone if you are experiencing the feeling of loneliness. Millions of people around the world are affected by feeling isolated. Many people feel inadequate, lonely, left out, and miserable, during or after the holiday season these feelings can be intense.
Since the start of Covid, many people have reported they feel alone. Isolations for months/years with little or no human contact can create negative cognitions within the brain. Negative cognitions mixed with feelings of loneliness can cause people to have lower self-esteem and self-image. Some people have forgotten how to be social or are experiencing social anxiety.
Loneliness doesn’t just target specific groups these feelings can hit anyone, anywhere. The sense that you are alone can occur or become stronger throughout different life transitions such as a breakup, divorce, children moving away, or the death of a loved one can cause people to feel lonely. Life transitions can often bring great sadness causing people to feel more alone.
The good news is that you can learn how to feel more connected to others. You have a choice every day on how you are going to look at the day and what you are going to do to feel more connected. If you don’t know how to get started in choosing your feelings, mental health professionals offer tools and techniques that teach you to change your mindset.
You Don’t Need to Feel Lonely Forever
Loneliness doesn’t have to last forever. Learning how to cope with your loneliness is an important step in healing and feeling more connected while improving your mental health. Reaching out to family, and friends could be a first step in feeling included. Look for ways you can be around people. Visit a park, library, museum, coffee shop, or local boutique, and find ways to create small talk that will reduce the feelings isolated. Volunteering is a great way to build new connections and feel as though you belong, giving back can make you feel good about yourself. Look for a group, Meet up Kalamazoo has many groups that can connect you with others, you may even find a new hobby. Find classes such as art, photography, and dance, or maybe join a local gym that could create social stimulation.
If it feels too overwhelming to look for ways to find connections, seeking the help of a therapist can be extremely helpful when you have recognized that the feeling of loneliness is too much for you. Mental health professionals meet you where you are and help you find your path to success by creating individualized goals.
The feeling of loneliness often is temporary and won’t last forever. If you find yourself feeling alone, make sure to practice self-care, get adequate sleep, create a healthy diet, exercise, or add meditations to assist in raising your mood. Finding ways to connect and engage with others is your best defense in decreasing feelings of loneliness. Remember how you view the world is a choice, you get to choose steps to change your mindset. You aren’t alone, a community is out there to help you, all you must do is look.