December's Ask An Expert
With all this stuff going on I’m worried about my relationships over the holidays. What do I do when I’m feeling lonely and can't be with the ones I love/care about this year?
This year, the holiday season is looking like a tough one for many people. If you’re feeling lonely this holiday season, we hope that you remember that you are not alone and your question is important. What can we do to take care of ourselves and connect with folks over the holidays? Here are a few suggestions to help beat the winter blues and stay connected:
Reach Out: It can feel so depressing to constantly check your phone for texts/emails or wait for calls and not have them come. But remember that you're not the only one feeling lonely and it can really feel good to brighten up someone’s day with a phone call/kind text or email of your own. Congratulate yourself for making the effort and spreading holiday cheer to others. And don’t forget that if you do live alone, you are allowed one or two in person contacts to keep yourself connected.
Try something new: Physical distancing is important but there are still lots of outdoor recreational activities still allowed (like skating, snowshoeing or even going for a walk). You can even do it with a friend in your cohort (wearing masks and taking appropriate precautions, of course). Braving the elements may require you to bundle up but it may feel better than being cooped up. Or consider online communities like online book clubs, virtual yoga or online fitness classes, and online board gaming. It can be scary (and exciting) to meet new people and try something different, but it can be worth the effort once you find a good fit.
Get to know yourself: If you are someone that feels good when you learn something new, taking the time to develop new hobbies or skills is a great strategy. More important than learning how to carve a duck will be to focus on taking care of yourself. Look for things that will improve how you feel on your own. That could mean journaling, meditating or just trying to say nice things to yourself. The road to self-care can be long but is rewarding and has many starting points. When in doubt, search out some mental health resources in your area.
Avoid negative people: When you're lonely, it may feel like any company is good company. It can be tempting to engage with people you broke up with, or who have made you feel less than, or who pushed past your boundaries. Remind yourself why you removed those people from your life and keep them blocked from your social media and emails/texts. Focus on more positive people and elements in your life - you may not always feel positive but that's ok. We're not going to have 100% good days. But avoiding people who hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself is a good start to better days.
Consider volunteering: There are many agencies at this time of year helping vulnerable people and animals and they are doing it Covid-19 friendly! Reaching out to offer your services - whether that's being a volunteer driver for seniors, or writing letters to vets, to packing food hampers, or delivering meals on wheels to those isolated, you can help so many and feel good doing it.
No matter what you choose to do over the holidays to keep yourself safe and connected, the most important thing to do is to be kind to yourself. This year has been tough and many of us are having a hard time. Hopefully, you can take the opportunity to challenge yourself and if you don’t, that’s okay too! Treating yourself like a loved one in hard times is a great start to being in good company, no matter the circumstances. You are worth it.