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How to combat feelings of loneliness this holiday season

Loneliness is a feeling that most of us will experience at some point in our lives, however for many people, this time of year can exacerbate feelings of loneliness. It is normal to feel particularly lonely at this time of year, especially when it feels as though everyone else is spending time with family and loved ones.

Loneliness is normal human emotion, however it can play an adverse role in mental health, causing feelings of isolation and often leading to increased distress due to negative thoughts and feelings. There are some positive benefits though – Feeling lonely can remind us to cherish other people and their company, while also teaching us that we shouldn’t depend on other people for our own happiness.

If you are feeling lonely this holiday season, there are many ways that you can combat these feelings and distract yourself from any negative thoughts that might pop-up: 

Connect with loved ones

This year, there are many reasons why it can be difficult to connect with loved ones face to face. Don’t let this get you down – instead consider other creative ways you can connect. Write some Christmas cards, send some messages on social media, use FaceTime, or apps like House Party that can allow you to enjoy fun activities with family or friends in real time. 

Get out in nature

Nature can work wonders for our mental health. In fact, studies have shown that being in nature, or even simply viewing scenes of nature can reduce anger, fear, and stress and actually increases positive feelings. Whilst getting out and about on your own can sometimes feel like the last thing on your mind, if you commit to getting some time outside the house, you might be pleasantly surprised. Staying indoors can sometimes increase feelings of loneliness which can contribute to feelings of depression – it’s a vicious cycle – you feel too low to go out and do things but staying home only reinforces this feeling of isolation. So, get yourself out there, rain, hail or shine. 

Volunteer

Volunteer your time to help others less fortunate or give your time to a charity. Using your time for good can not only make you feel good personally, but it can help others at the same time while giving you an opportunity to socially interact with people. Consider also visiting others who may be alone at this time, such as residents of a nursing home. 

Explore new hobbies

Sometimes taking your mind off things through diversional therapy is a great way to connect with yourself and learn something new. If you’re a beach lover, try planning some enjoyable activities where you learn a new skill or develop a hobby like learning to surf or paddle boarding – many of these activities can be done via group classes which is a great way to meet people. Planning activities will not only give you positive things to look forward to, it will allow you to socialise which in turn can distract you from any feelings of loneliness you might have. 

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can be a healthy habit year-round, however it is especially beneficial when you might be suffering from feelings of loneliness during the holiday season. Staying in the present can help to curb any negative thoughts you may be having and help you to feel comfortable with your own company. Things like meditation, yoga, affirmations and breathing exercises all allow you to focus on being in the present moment and appreciating the now. All of these activities encourage practicing being grateful which will improve your mindset by making you appreciate the little things and feel positive and content with your current situation. Mindfulness also focuses on your perception and attitude which is likely to improve if you’re focusing more on the positive things in life.   

Spend time with animals

Animals can provide valuable companionship to humans, so if you’re lucky enough to own a pet, spend some quality time with them. Animals can give us comfort just as much as we can give them comfort. So take your dog for a walk, help out at an animal shelter or go for a walk to the local dog park and interact with the animals and their owners.  

Seek professional help

If you simply can’t shake feelings of loneliness reach out and connect with a professional. A psychologist can help you navigate feelings of loneliness and will arm you with actionable methods of treatment. The key thing to remember is that making the connection with a mental health professional can be the most important step in receiving treatment and working towards a better state of mind. Services like Lysn can connect you to a professional psychologist online, along with providing an array of online tools which can help you to improve your mental health. 

Lisa Jacob is a psychologist from Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.

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