Is loneliness during the festive season a problem for you or someone you know? 49



View Profile

As we grow older, it seems that the ‘hecticness’ of the festive season begins earlier each year… and here we go again!

Christmas, New Year, and summer holidays herald new beginnings for many, as the deadlines that appear at this time of year send many into a spin.

With many preparing for holidays, there is so much to be done! Meeting deadlines at work, finishing important projects before going on leave, organising the family gatherings and celebrations, sharing the excitement with children and the young at heart, and fitting in all of the end-of-year break-up concerts, parties and functions. Exhausting! And lots of fun and excitement!

But what about those in our community who don’t have this excitement?

For some, this excitement actually makes them feel more sad and lonely than usual, as it can highlight what they believe is missing from their world. In fact, loneliness and isolation can trigger a raft of mental and physical health issues including anxiety, depression and elevated blood pressure, to name a few.

For many and varied reasons, there are people in our communities who don’t have anyone to share in Christmas, New Year, summer holidays or any of the ensuing celebrations.

Such circumstances include: children may have grown and moved interstate or overseas, personal relationships may have broken down, single parents may find themselves alone for part of the festivities due to shared arrangements with their children, partners, family or friends may have died, and there are others who may have never had a family of their own, relying on friends and work colleagues for social connection, all of which can seem more daunting and feel more isolating during the festive season.

Whatever the reason, the reality is that not too far from you: there will be someone alone during the festive season.

Before commenting further, I should point out that not everyone who is alone, single, or not involved with family and celebrations is necessarily feeling lonely or isolated. For some, they are perfectly happy, and that is great!

For others, however, times of community or societal celebration can be the most difficult, reinforcing their loneliness and isolation.

If you or someone you know struggles with loneliness, here are some suggestions on how to manage – especially if the festive season reinforces your loneliness more than any other time of year:

  • Aim to keep busy:
    • Work out the things you most enjoy doing and use this to fill your day
  • Determine which days/parts of the festive season are likely to be the most difficult for you, and then actively find things to occupy yourself
  • If you have friends and/or colleagues who might also be alone, check out what they have planned
  • Work out a schedule for some or all of the days during the festive season – there might be a day or two when you could meet a friend or colleague
    • For example: two women I knew were both spending Christmas Day alone so they decided to go to the zoo together – and they both had a ball!
    • Another woman I know has booked herself into a city hotel for the key days of the Festive Season. She found the combination of a little pampering combined with being amidst the city activity was a way for her to minimise her loneliness – and she, too, had a ball!
  • Keep yourself busy – or as busy as you like to be –
    • Plan your day and aim to include some exercise (which helps the release of endorphins)
    • Include activities you enjoy – going for coffee, out for a meal, time in the garden, watch a DVD or favourite TV program (e.g. Carols)
    • If you have family living away arrange a skype session or phone call
    • Consider volunteering – there are some great websites to give you ideas
    • Start a project – when you have time on your hands it is a good time to start that creative idea you have wanted to get to – and if you haven’t thought about it, perhaps this is the time to start!

A key point here is about planning.

If you know you are likely to be alone – and you are not happy about that, plan in advance for ways to occupy yourself. Some volunteering agencies like to train people and have then on board throughout the year, and this is often a rewarding venture that can also help to take care of fears and concerns you might have around loneliness and isolation. Win –win!

Remember: the bottom line of influence about how we feel largely relates to our thought processes.

Yes, we may have reason to feel sad and lonely at times, but we are ultimately in control of how we experience it. Mindset is crucial.

Here are some tips to help re-frame your thinking when it tries to lead you astray:

1. You are in charge

As a complete being, you are in charge of how you feel. You already have all of the skills and attributes you need to live a healthy, happy, abundant lifestyle. Whatever is missing in your world right now, you can identify and work at setting it right.

How you think about things will have a massive impact on how you respond and how you feel. The goal is to shift your thinking towards seeing the opportunity in every challenge.

2. New beginnings

Once you realise what is making you feel the way you do, you will gain instant relief from making a change to your current situation and start working with these new opportunities.

What is even more rewarding is when You take ownership of your world – how you think and feel always comes back to You!

This is great news because it means you are not stuck with something you don’t like. Remember, neuroplasticity of the brain allows neurons in the brain to adjust in response to new situations! Things CAN change!

3. Wellbeing

As you develop sound thinking that will enhance your mental health, you recognize and optimise your strengths, boosting your self-esteem and quality of life.

Knowing that you can change the thoughts and responses that don’t make you feel good is an empowering realization: that You are in control of how you feel – despite external situations.

Take charge of your thinking: your efforts will be rewarded!

Wishing you a safe and happy festive season!

Merryn Snare

Merryn Snare has enjoyed a rewarding career as a registered psychologist, registered primary and special education teacher, dance therapist, bereavement and trauma counsellor, executive coach, author, world traveller, and mother. Merryn is also the international Author of “Annihilate Stress and Anxiety – 21 Proven Strategies for a Balanced Life”.

  1. This is my first Christmas ever without at least one of my children. This is their decision so I was feeling pretty upset. However my sister who lives in another state suggested i take a little holiday over Christmas so I am off to Fiji for a week alone. I am sure i will miss my kids as Christmas with them has been very important to me always. But a little bird told me that the people of Fiji will make sure i am not lonely. I am banking on it. I know a lot of people cant afford a holiday but Fiji is so cheap that if you start putting five dollars a fortnight away now, you will be able to go to somewhere like Fiji next year if you are alone and lonely.

    22 REPLY
    • You will love Fiji Fran—so relaxing. Good to see you are not sitting at home miserable and are taking the break. Pamper yourself. Merry Christmas Fran!!🌲🎄🌴🌴

    • I’m looking at a cruise for next Xmas 2016.. Luckily my mum left me some money so I will be using some of that.

    • I cant imagine not having Xmas with my grown children and grandchildren but do also remember other times when it wasnt so happy….think this time of the year puts pressure on people instead of being happy etc it becomes stressful. We have to drive 5hrs to see our family for Xmas.

    • You will have great time I’m sure, the people of Fiji are so beautiful they warm your heart. Merry Christmas Fran, we care about you. 😊

    • Spent last Xmas there . wonderful.
      My children take year about with in laws then next with me. I don’t mind. I see them before or after .

    • Fran, have a lovely Christmas and enjoy your holiday, I know all good things are about to come your way take care 🌷🏝

    • Fran, how could your children be so callous and thoughtless. Christmas is about family….happy Christmas to you

    • I think we all have a secret fear of this and I am sorry it happened to you Fran. You are handling this in a mature way but I know it must be tough. You have a lot of friends here

    • Thank you everyone. I mean it. I have good and bad days over this but I will survive it. I appreciate all your kind words.

    • Feel for you Fran. We haven’t seen our son for years now, either at Christmas or during the year. His choice since he re-married. At least I still have my husband.
      Have a great time in Fiji. Merry Christmas. Xx💕💕

  2. I will probably be on my own. But it doesn’t bother me. Just another day.

    6 REPLY
    • I’m looking at a cruise for xmas next year. Mum left me some money so I am using some of it. Looking at around NZ and the islands. Can get them for 12 days for as low as $2500 per person twin share.

    • Ruth, there is a site called Cruise Sale Finder.
      They have really good specials, but the cruises are usually departing in 4-6 weeks time.
      But also, just check the cruise company Webb site for specials.
      New Zealand in October this year on Dawn Princess was approx $1300 twin share.
      May be worth while for you

  3. I think five dollars a fortnight for a year might just cover a taxi to the airport so will have to give it a miss.

    3 REPLY
    • I may have been exagerating Linda but it is not dear. I had one last tax checque from work at a low paid job and it was enough for airfares, resort accomodation and spending money for a week. ☺

    • PS I’m in Perth so it’s a lot dearer, but I know you can get fabulous bargains from Queensland where my daughter lives.

  4. I am not lonely, just hate it for the pressure and stress of it all. Selfish little kids everywhere deciding how to send their parent broke over presents they can’t afford. And people seem to go loopty loo and spend, spend, spend. I am always glad when it is over and the kids are back at school because my neighbourhood becomes quiet once again. I hate kids and I hate Christmas. Bah Humbug. (Middle name Grinch.)

    1 REPLY
  5. I fill for you Fran Spears. As I have been there as well with family. I am glad you are going away to Fiji.
    I my self over the last 8 years have been on my own.
    In all that time I have got out and meet other people in the same boat.
    This is my list of things I do ever week.
    1. Tue. Dancing
    2. Dinner at the club with others that live on there own. Sun.
    3. Knitting.
    4. Play games on my ipad. Plus Facebook. Ext.
    5. Visit my 2 good people that live next door.
    6. Go shopping.
    7. Get in my car and just go!?
    8. Ride my bike.
    9. I go camping by my self in a caravan park down the coast. That will happen after the school holidays.
    10. Help to clean a lady’s home ever 2 weeks.
    11. Talking to you.
    I understand. I miss all my 5 grandchildren. 😢
    2. Club for dinner with a group of people on ther own

  6. You will meet some amazing people over there, my daughter and her 2 daughters got married there and said they couldn’t have wished for a better time. They make you part of there family and my son has been going there for the past 8 years. Have a wonderful time.

  7. Get involved with ur local parish..they hava shared xmas 4evry1..we invite sum1 alone to sit at ow table at xmas evry year

  8. It gets hard when children grow up, get married , have children. There is the other side of the family to consider as well.

    3 REPLY
    • One of the reasons Christmas has lost its magic for us. Everyone has so many demands on their time and so many people to please and appease! We figured if we relieved them of the pressure of a formal Christmas with us, they could keep their commitments and pop in a have a cuppa with us if time allowed! Suits everyone!

    • Oh, that hasn’t happened yet!! Our other daughter gets a bit upset as she would like us to go to her place, but Vic hardly gets out of bed since he had the stroke and my brother is so very frail! Vic’s electric wheelchair is chunky and takes up so much room and there are steps up to her front door! Also, he can only sit in it for a short time, plus we have to arrange for a wheelchair taxi and have been let down by them frequently. Its not worth the aggravation! I’ll actually be glad when it’s all over!

  9. Quite happy with isolation and have seldom suffered from loneliness! Over the past few years, my eldest goes overseas every Christmas, generally so they can have a white Christmas. They’ve been to Canada, Russia, Norway, and Scotland and Iceland. This year they are heading to the Cook Islands. Guess they are tired of freezing their bums off! They are not long home from Hungry and Turkey! One son in Queensland, another in South Australia. Only other local daughter will spend time with us and granddaughter will bring the greats to see us. Otherwise a quiet day at home. Suits us as we are not into Christmas anymore!

  10. Spent the last 3 xmas days alone. I have a good time, cook, drink, music more drink more music more drink. Merry @$#££:” mas. Hiccup……..

  11. Well lady’s. Yes Christmas and children is……I what. I what. I what. Then it goes in the bin our life line. The things thy make for children is plastic and shit. Plus big $$$$$$$. Kids are ?!?!?!?!?
    I will not spend my money on bad toys.
    What happen to the good old days. Make the toys your self or make them. So sad.
    Jesus birthday is lost in all the $?!$?!$?! 🎅🎄

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *