How to Handle Loneliness During the Holidays

For most people, November marks the start of the busy holiday season. Classes are beginning to die down, friends and family are coming back home to reunite over winter get-togethers, and a sense of community starts to settle in for the end of another year. But for those of us who aren’t as fortunate to have a place to call “home” or a community of people there to provide support, the holidays can be some of the toughest times of the year. Being constantly bombarded by ads with smiling faces and Hallmark movies filled with holiday spirit can be overwhelming and even ostracizing.

However, not all is lost. Here are a few ways to make the upcoming season a little less lonely:

1) Step away from social media.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are powder kegs of self-esteem depressants. During the holidays, people are more inclined to posting carefully curated pictures of the happiest moments in their lives surrounded by friends and family. Add in a sentimental caption about feeling “thankful” and “humbled,” and your news feed turns straight into a competition of who can execute the most in-your-face, humble brag. Save yourself the trouble of more emotional distress and take a break from these social media networks. You’ll do wonders for your mental health.

2) Make a list of all your positive experiences over the year.

It may be hard to think about all the good things that have happened in 2018, but you’ll be surprised by how many memories and moments come up to the surface. It’s a good way to center your focus and remind yourself that your slump is only temporary.

3) Reconnect with an old friend.

One of the surefire ways to combat loneliness is to reach out. Haven’t talked to that friend from high school in a while? Missed talking to an acquaintance? Call them! You’d be surprised by how eager some people are to catch up and reminisce over old memories.

4) Do a winter activity that you enjoy.

Instead of staying in your room all day, take yourself out and enjoy the change of scenery. Removing yourself from an emotionally-isolating environment can create a physical change within your mood, for the better. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for. Ice skate, shop at the holiday market, walk through the park. Treating yourself to a fun activity can help keep those lonely feelings at bay.

5) Write a list of things you’re looking forward to in the new year.

Writing down what you want to happen in your life takes your ideas from concept to actual existence. It’s the first step in actually manifesting those goals, and it will give you a direction to move towards instead of being stuck in the present. Plus, you’ll be starting 2019 off with a new energy.

6) Enjoy your quiet moments.

While sitting alone in your thoughts can be very claustrophobic, try looking at your situation as a chance to check in with yourself and analyze where you are in the moment. As college students, we are constantly running around, chasing the next deadline, and waiting for the next round of assignments and projects to come. Instead, focus on the fact that you can have a break from your academic responsibilities and spend that much-needed time on improving you.

At the end of the day, listen to what your mind is telling you it needs. Shift your focus from what other people are doing, to what you need to do to restore your sense of confidence. The holidays aren’t about the amount of gifts you get or the number of photos you post on social media; they’re about celebrating a time of reflection, a time of remembrance for all the wonderful things that have happened over the past year. Especially in a time of troubling political events and low morale, holidays provide a sense of hope in the thick of it all.

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