Holiday Blues: 3 Ways to Cope When You’re Lonely This Season
When the holiday season arrives, it can feel like the rest of the world is scampering through a winter wonderland of parties and family reunions . Popular culture and social media feeds filled with celebratory images prime us to believe that our troubles should, in the words of the ubiquitous Christmas carol, be far away.
But the truth is, the dark, cold days of December can be difficult. While we often hear people acknowledge their overeating or overspending or stressing about having too many social obligations, this is also a time of year when many people are deeply lonely .
“At any given time, roughly 20% of individuals—that would be 60 million people in the U.S. alone—feel sufficiently isolated for it to be a major source of unhappiness in their lives,” write John John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick in their book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection . And that feeling doesn’t disappear when December hits.
So, if you’re feeling isolated this holiday season, take some comfort in the knowledge that you’re in good company. Then, consider the following salves to soothe your December melancholy.
1. Lower Expectations
Holiday hype is hard to resist. You probably don’t realize it, but movies and advertisements and songs leak into your subconscious. And suddenly, you’re wondering why you don’t have a tiny wrapped box under the tree or a date on New Year’s Eve, even though you were perfectly fine with your single status in November.
“There are commercials filled with images of couples getting engaged, children opening presents with their smiling parents in the background,” says Matt Lundquist , a psychotherapist in New York City. “What’s particularly challenging around the holidays is the contrast between the ideal and the reality.”
So switch off those jewelry commercials and remember that most people don’t have holidays that unfold like a movie. No party invites? No boyfriend? Who cares? What about hosting a movie marathon with a couple friends? When it comes to holiday plans, or anything else for that matter, you can write your own script.