Whether decking the halls with lights and holly, or simply cozying up to the warmth of a crackling fireplace, we are charmed, year after year, by the enchantment of the holiday season. Celebration or not, the atmosphere is seemingly more pleasant, as are the people and their many well-wishes. Yet, despite the captivating nature of this painted picture, there is hidden hurt, grievance and heartache among some that often go unseen. Loneliness and isolation, when mentally/emotionally drained, is no joke. Given that there is a heightened tendency for the expression of love and togetherness during this time of year, it’s expected that those already burdened with sufferings sink a bit deeper into the hole that they formerly felt stuck in. A heavy heart-induced loneliness usually requires more than just a quick-fix- as a quick fix may not be a possibility. Rather than expecting an unrealistic solution to miraculously present itself (though, we could all use a Christmas miracle right about now), it’s better to find means of efficiently managing the factors paired with this condition to make coping doable.
Be true to yourself- In any approach to healing, it’s crucial that there is no pretense when reflecting upon your frame of mind and the emotions associated with it. If you’re feeling dejected and low-spirited, establish to yourself that this is what you are truly feeling. Likewise, if happy, express a silent gratitude for all of the good that comes with this contentment. It’s important that we take a moment to look at the full picture of what we are feeling and experiencing, periodically, so that we can plan how to adequately proceed from that point forward. A great technique to assess your emotions in the most genuine process is to write a letter to yourself. Long or short, pour your heart out onto paper and then read it to yourself to truly absorb the substance of what you are undergoing. To follow this up, create a short list, or paragraph, of something(s) you can do to improve the state that you’re in. It’s understandable that much, if not all, of the situation may be beyond your control at this point. If that’s the case, maybe jot down a plan/list of things that you can do to create a better environment for you. A periodic release of accumulated stress and shutting out stressors to the best of our abilities allow for a healthier climate in which to thrive. Sometimes when we find that happiness is out of grasp for the time being, finding ways to achieve, at the very least, a sense of “okay”ness makes all the difference. Without regard to what those uninformed may pressure, you are not expected to “move on” if moving on isn’t an option in that particular ordeal. Rather, you can move forward toward security and comfort for the sake of your own prosperity.
Indulge in self-care- In the course of seclusion and loneliness, we tend to “let ourselves go” at times, with futility- an overall sense of hopelessness- weighing down upon us. Sleeping for unusually long hours of the day, or even losing so much sleep that it feels impossible to get anything necessary done, binge eating or eating much too little, dreading the efforts required of personal hygiene and neglecting all opportunities to leave the confinement of home… Loneliness, grief and depression can completely interfere with the energy and drive to live your life the way you want to. The suggestion to push past that boundary that suffering creates is absurd to anyone experiencing the defeat that they are, and perfectly fitting. Though difficult, there is an unfathomable feeling of strength and achievement that comes with doing so. Self-care does wonders to handling stress and pain due to the confidence and preparedness that is gained from watching yourself conquer that feat. Do your best to work up to cleaning yourself up and your living space. This creates a comfortable bodily and physical environment, free of clutter and disorganization, in which to abide. If you are up for it, establish a workout routine (even if as short as 10 minutes a day) dedicated to strengthening and enhancing the state of your mind and body. If a workout routine is a longshot for the time being, you can take a walk outdoors to recharge from the cluster of continuous residing inside of the house. Tending to the health of your mind and body can make you more readily approach experiencing external activities, events and scenes, as well, which can lessen the feeling of seclusion.
Revel in a little holiday cheer- Low moods and feeling lack of a sense of true belonging would easily deplete anyone’s ability to experience joy. But the holidays are the holidays, after all, and what many forget is that there is much more to the holidays than large family gatherings, exchanging presents with friends and loved ones, and extensive shopping sprees. While those are great, as well, there is a background of sentimental value, and therefore relative warmheartedness, that blankets this season- one of the many reasons that the holiday season is regarded as so special. That being said, you yourself are more than deserving of some of that joy and warmth. One of the best ways to cope with loneliness during this time of year is to take part in some of the activities that you would ordinarily do with others, but independently. Though there’s an irreplaceable pleasure that results from doing these things with someone else, that definitely doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t experience those, at all. Go out to the downtown area of your city and take in the beauty of the décor ambience. Buy yourself a dessert, or a favorite meal of yours, and eat out, or take it home to enjoy while marathoning back-to-back Christmas/holiday-themed movies and sipping a cup of hot cocoa. Go shopping for a present for yourself that you know is, most certainly, well-deserved because you’ve come so far and you deserve the best, regardless of the bitter things that life throws at you. And never forget, one of the most precious gifts to give during the holiday season is the gift of giving. Buy some little things within your budget, or gather a few items in your home that you might not need anymore, and donate them to a shelter, or organization, for those that are in need. Volunteer in places like soup kitchens and nearby fundraising for those struggling. As a gesture of love and care would be lifechanging for you, it would be equally so for another hurting, as well. Guaranteed, the emotions that you will experience from such efforts, alone, will be one of the most memorable and rewarding for both you and the person(s) that you gifted with that kind gesture.
Attempting to wrestle with loneliness during the holidays can prove exhausting, especially considering that grief and loneliness are one of the toughest challenges to overcome. While there may not be a plausible way of altering the source of that bleakness, there are small ways to not miss out completely on the essence of the seasonal delight. In focusing on the self for the time being for the sake of comfort and healing, you may find that it’s the little things, after all, that go a long way.
Written by Kristen Racktoo, Content Contributor