During the holidays, there’s this great sense of togetherness. You can’t flip through the channels on TV without seeing an endless supply of commercials and shows revolving around big families all snuggled around the tree, or parties full of happy holiday spirit.
And while that might bring warm and fuzzy feelings to most people, there are also those who are tempted to crawl into bed and wait it out until a week past New Year’s. In fact, according to Emily White, author of Lonely: Learning to Live With Solitude, as much as 10 percent of people suffer from chronic loneliness.
If you’re someone who’s experienced the anxiety, sadness, and downright annoyance of being single or otherwise on your own, then you know that curing loneliness isn’t as easy as walking into the nearest bar and striking up a conversation. And it’s even more difficult to feel a sense of belonging when you feel like you’re on the outside looking in during the holidays.
To help you get your spirits up, here are some tips to get you up and out of the house during the holidays:
1. Extend a helping hand to those in need.
The spirit of the holidays is giving, and there are many ways to do so. The obvious choice is to volunteer for one of the many charities and events that are looking for extra help during this time of year. You could give out food and presents to children or audition for a part in a holiday themed play. You could even join a group to Christmas carol.
But if you’re not interested in volunteering, another way to reach out to others is by hosting your own event during the holidays. You might find that there are others who also don’t have a place to go during Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year’s. You could host a potluck and bring together anyone in your circle who’s looking for company. This sort of event could even spark new friendships or relationships.
2. Get out there and do something you wouldn’t normally do.
Even if you’re not usually a fan of going to the bar with your coworkers on Friday afternoons, you might enjoy attending the annual holiday party better than sitting on your own at home. You might also get invites to parties and events from people who you aren’t that close with (or don’t even like).
Remember that you always have the option of leaving and going back home to your PJ’s and wine if you’re not having a good time, but give it a try for at least an hour before you bail. You might even find another lonely soul to share some time with.
3. Make your own traditions.
If you don’t have a variety of parties and family events on your schedule during the holidays, that doesn’t mean you need to sit at home alone and wait until the lights are taken down to get out and have a good time again. Plan something that you can look forward to doing during the holidays.
You might opt to get out of town to a place you’ve never seen or could just allow yourself to spend the whole day indulging in one of your favorite hobbies. It’s up to you to make this time off as fun and rewarding as possible.
Despite what some might try to tell you, loneliness is not something that can be ‘cured’ with a few easy steps, but there are definitely ways that you can make the holidays a little more bearable – even if you dread this time of year.
Plan to have a good time and you might surprise yourself with how your mood starts to change.
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