Professional Counseling & Psychotherapy

Loneliness Over the Holidays

Sometimes people feel especially lonely over the holidays. Yes, sometimes people feel lonely because they are alone, but sometimes people feel lonely even when they are not alone. We associate the holidays with good cheer, fun, and camaraderie. But when our expectations are high and our emotions are heightened, we are also vulnerable for feeling let down when our experiences seem to fall short of all we had envisioned and hoped for. So, sometimes the holidays feel lonely.

The holidays are a time when families get together. But sometimes people are not able to enjoy a feeling of membership with their family. They may feel the weight of anxiety, hurt, or anger rooted in a history of neglect or rejection. And so the holidays can feel particularly painful.

The holidays are a time when we share all of our plans and activities with those whom we love the most – shopping, decorating, church services, and family gatherings. But when folks have lost their parents, when a marriage or relationship has ended, when children have grown up and left the nest, when partners have lost their beloved spouse, the holidays can feel very empty.

So, what can we do when we’re feeling lonely over the holidays? Well, first, remember that it’s alright and important even to understand, accept, and make a place for all of our feelings. We cannot just force happiness on ourselves. But we do not have to deny ourselves any comfort, pleasure, or festivity either.

If we feel let down, maybe we can pay more attention to those smaller moments that can still bring a big smile. If we feel hurt, maybe we can reach out to someone else who may also be hurting and appreciate our company. If we feel sad, maybe we can do a good deed, start a new hobby, write a story, or go out somewhere and take some pictures.

So as we make a place for all of our emotions over these holidays, let’s also look for a little adventure. Even when we’re feeling disappointed, estranged, dejected, or alone, we can still make plans for ourselves, do something we enjoy, attend an event, buy something for ourselves, watch a funny movie, go for a brisk walk, or make something we’ve never made before in the kitchen! Let’s do something, maybe something different, maybe with someone different. Let’s be creative, imaginative, innovative, and enjoy some holiday cheer!

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