The holiday season is often associated with spending time with loved ones and experiencing joy and happiness. But the reality is that for some, it is a time of loneliness, known to cause holiday anxiety, stress and feelings of isolation.  

Some people live far from family and friends and miss seeing their loved ones at this time of the year, while others find it stressful to go to holiday parties and celebrations. It is also common for people to feel distant from the people they are surrounded with, which results in feelings of loneliness despite being in a room full of people.  

Although holidays can be a time of additional stress, there are ways that you can navigate loneliness during the holiday period.  

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Balancing Alone Time During the Holidays 

Sometimes, alone time can be healthy as it provides the time to focus on yourself and do whatever makes you happy and fulfilled. There are a few ways you can balance your time during the holidays and celebrate on your own: 

  • Start a new tradition like baking your favourite treats or watching your favourite movies 
  • Rediscover old hobbies   
  • Do something out of the house, like exploring a new museum or new hiking trail and spend some time in nature  
  • Write letters and make phone calls to your family and friends  

Having meaningful time by yourself can help you maintain a positive mindset and well-being and avoid feelings of loneliness and anxiety.  

Why Can the Holidays Cause Loneliness? 

To people who have never experienced loneliness during the holiday season, the possibility of feeling challenging emotions may be confusing. However, it’s very common, and several reasons exist.  

The holidays are often a difficult time of year for people who don’t have a close family or support system. Holidays are also filled with triggers, as one person’s reason for happiness may be another’s source of upset. Our thoughts and memories can also trigger pleasant and unpleasant emotions, with people also experiencing emotional overload during the holiday season. 

Additionally, many feel a need to create the “perfect holiday experience,” and failing to execute it can cause stress and self-criticism.  

The Power of Self-Compassion 

Self-compassion can be one of the most beneficial tools for navigating loneliness during the holiday season. Self-compassion means accepting, forgiving, and loving yourself when life challenges seem too much.  

Being kind to yourself is about understanding ourselves when we don’t succeed at something or feel alone and hurt. Rather than being judgemental when feeling lonely, we can embrace the challenges and treat ourselves with patience and warmth.  

Tips for Practicing Self-Compassion 

There are plenty of techniques that you can use to practice self-compassion in a way that suits you. Fostering self-compassion is simple but a skill that can be learned and improved.  

Treat Yourself Like You Would Treat Your Friend  

A good starting point for practising self-compassion is considering how you would like to treat others you care about. This is all about being empathetic, understanding and loving yourself.  

Becoming More Self-Aware 

Another tip to remember is to become more self-aware while tapping into self-talk and being aware of your internal narrative in a positive light.  

Self-acceptance means accepting your perceived shortcomings but focusing on your strengths. Also, practising mindfulness helps you become more self-aware and allows you to centre yourself in the moment.  

(Re)Gain Perspective 

Let go of the need to gain outside validation. Lots of negative thinking comes from how others perceive us. However, choosing not to connect our happiness to external influence can be an act of self-kindness.  

Reaching Out  

Relationships are often one of the most vital factors that make us feel protected and connected in times of crisis. 

The holiday season is an excellent opportunity to create new traditions that will challenge how our society works.  

Let’s focus on the tips and strategies discussed and embrace every opportunity to enhance our mental health.