How do you cope with loneliness during the holidays?
Despite being called the most wonderful time of the year, many people struggle to cope with loneliness during the holidays. According to a 1999 Canadian study of patients treated by emergency psychiatric services during the Christmas season, the most common stressors were feelings of loneliness and “being without a family.”
Another reason for seasonal loneliness is when you may not be able to join celebrations, due to various reasons such as illness or being in a place far from family and friends. But you may also just feel lonely even if you’re in the company of loved ones or right smack in the midst of a fun activity.
Feeling a great sense of loneliness, during any other time of the year but most especially during the holidays, is something you wouldn’t choose to experience. However, it can occur and is a reality for many people.
And when you feel loneliness, it can lead to other negative emotions, such as helplessness, worthlessness, self-pity and bitterness.
If you’re struggling with loneliness during the holidays, you may want to consider implementing some proven strategies that can help you overcome the negative impact of the holidays on your emotions.
Mindfulness can help you cope with loneliness
One of these strategies is mindfulness, which is a 2,500-year-old practice that focuses on creating an attentive awareness of everything within the present moment. This is a proven effective intervention when dealing with difficult emotions, such as holiday loneliness and depression.
For help with coping with loneliness this holiday season, here are some mindfulness tips you should definitely try.
- Meditate for 10 minutes or more a day. Use this quiet time to really just focus on everything surrounding you and yourself. Reach that level of awareness before turning your attention to the small details such as your thoughts and feelings. The important thing here is to acknowledge, allow and accept all experiences – even if they are unpleasant.
- Focus on your breathing pattern. According to Ayurveda practitioners, “When you learn the breathing techniques it will positively affect your actions and thoughts. Every thought we have changes the rhythm of our breath. When we are happy breathing is rhythmic and when we are stressed breathing is irregular and interrupted. Mastering the art of breathing is a crucial step towards self-healing and survival.” Focusing on your breathe will bring you fully into the moment and it interrupt your thoughts of loneliness that get you down.
- Think of what you’re grateful for. This will shift your mind to a more positive place. There are many proven benefits of practicing gratitude including an overall sense of wellbeing and contentment. And no matter how lonely you might feel, you can always something to be grateful for.
- Find ways to practice mindfulness outside of meditation such as when you take long walks. This will allow you to be aware of your emotions, and the actual activity you’re doing in the moment. You will come to a realisation that the moment is not just about one thing such as your loneliness brought on by the season.
- Release your thoughts and emotions. As you focus on the present, acknowledge the thoughts and feelings that come into your mind, and consciously let them go. You can practice noticing and validating your thoughts and then releasing them over and over again. This very process is what mindfulness meditation is about,
Do you need relationship help?
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.