Influencer Daily

Holidays can feel lonely: Here are 5 ways to cope

Written by: Kent Ingle

 

It’s almost time for Christmas presents, fireworks and a new year. Christmas lights are brightening up homes, and stores are inundated with customers shopping for gifts. Workdays are getting longer as we finish up last-minute projects, and school days are getting shorter leading up to the holiday breaks.

As a father of three young adults – who are thriving in their careers – the holiday season means uninterrupted family time as we celebrate our blessings and the birth of our Savior. This season isn’t so much about the delicious foods we eat or the presents we receive, but rather about the time we spend together.

Yet, the most wonderful time of the year isn’t so wonderful for everyone. The family traditions and memories from years past can invoke pain and sadness, as there may be an empty seat at the table. Having experienced loss at a young age, I understand how lonely the holidays can feel. 

A staggering 55% of Americans experience sadness and loneliness during the holidays due to not being around loved ones, seasonal depression and grief. How do you cope with loneliness this holiday season?

First, start with gratitude. A growing body of research has shown that gratitude benefits every aspect of your life, from your psychological to physical health. These studies have found that keeping a “gratitude notebook” can increase your happiness.

When you start to feel lonely, pull out a notebook or open a notes app on your phone and begin to write down everything you are thankful for. It can be as simple as the clothes you are wearing, the food you are eating or the place you live. By writing down what you’re grateful for, you’ll start appreciating the little things in life and looking more positively at your situation.

Second, venture into nature. Research shows that being in nature benefits your well-being. It creates feelings of being more connected, fosters social interactions and generates positive emotions, such as joy.

Carve out an hour or two in your week to plant a garden, explore a new trail at a park or go to the beach. Sometimes you need a change in your surroundings. Being outdoors can help you appreciate God’s creation.

Third, minimize your expectations. Commercials and movies often overhype the holidays, which can lead to a false sense of reality. It can create the unrealistic expectation that joy stems from falling in love, having everyone in person for the holidays or hosting the perfect new year’s Party.

It’s okay to experience sadness and grief because the holidays aren’t what they used to be. But, be careful not to wallow in those emotions. Recognize early on that things may happen differently than what you want or planned. By preparing to lower your expectations, you learn to adapt to varying situations and practice being present in the moment.

Fourth, give back. Reshift your focus off of yourself and volunteer with a non-profit organization or local church. Distribute food at a soup kitchen, put together supplies for a nonprofit, ring a bell outside a store with Salvation Army or donate a Christmas gift to someone in need.

Volunteering improves health, diminishes feelings of loneliness and connects you with others. Working with a group of people toward a common goal of service can also create a sense of community and establish feelings of belonging.

Finally, spend time in prayer. When the heaviness of the season gets to me, I find a spot in my house where I can retreat and spend time with Christ. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” And, Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

By spending time with God, you allow Him to change your perspective, heal your brokenness and give you a sense of peace and comfort. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to pray with you, whether it’s a friend or a pastor at a church near you.

While the holiday season may bring mixed emotions, remember you aren’t alone. When you start to feel lonely, acknowledge your feelings, seek ways to change your perspective and reach out to someone who can encourage and help you. The holidays can be the opportune time to embark on new adventures that bring you joy, spend time with those closest to you and create new memories while remembering those you loved.

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