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How to cope with loneliness at Christmas

woman sitting alone at Christmas

Alone for Christmas? Loneliness can be difficult to cope with at any time of the year, but add a little forced festive cheer and, for many, it becomes unbearable. With the festive season emphasising family, togetherness and merriment, the absence of those features is painfully accentuated. If you're set to spend any part of the Christmas period alone, here are our tips for how to cope with loneliness this Christmas. And if you fancy a bit of social interaction, don't miss out on the Gransnet forums. Everyone is welcome!

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1. You're not alone

“Christmas with my family always meant so much to me, but I was newly divorced and both my adult children were with their in-laws. I dreaded it...but I actually had quite a nice day with no rushing about.

Perhaps one of the most isolating feelings when it comes to spending Christmas alone is the idea that you're the only one in that situation. In short there are lots of people who, for whatever reason, are feeling isolated and aren't seeing friends or family at Christmas. And even if you're on your own physically, there's no reason you can't connect online. From video calls with grandkids to popping in to the merry festivities of the Gransnet Christmas forum where many people will be in the same boat as you, there are plenty of options to keep in touch. 


2. ...but if you want to be, that's fine too

“I have Christmas alone sometimes by choice, it’s fine. Treat yourself to the best of the telly, some fab food, a good book and enjoy the day.”

Don't feel pressured to accept invitations if you'd really rather be by yourself, or feel that for everyone's health it's the more sensible option. Many people are making the choice to stay on their own because they're concerned about infecting their loved ones - or becoming infected themselves. 

"There does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel and it would be a shame to take risks at this late stage."

To stop yourself from feeling lonely our users have made a number of clever suggestions on things to do if you're alone for Christmas


3. Volunteer

"My friend arranged with the local Salvation Army to help out serving the Christmas dinners at their centre to local homeless people - one of the best Christmas days she said she's ever had."

older women at christmas market

While volunteering, you can meet others and feel like you're doing something good. If you are worried about leaving the house with rising rates of Covid though, you may prefer to do a home-based volunteering roles, such as working on a telephone support helpline.  Take a look at your local charities or religious groups, and stave off the loneliness whilst also giving something back to the community. See here for the most up to date government guidelines on volunteering

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4. Avoid overindulging and do something different 

Whilst it may be tempting to say 'sod it' and work your way through a vat of Christmas wine, excessive drinking and eating will do very little to lift your mood and will only make you feel worse later on. You must try to get moving, interact, and keep looking outward instead of inward. Like the outdoors? Try going for a winter walk. Have a neighbour in the same position? Suggest they accompany you and you can have a bit of exercise and a catch-up at the same time. Sometimes it's much easier for the conversation to flow when you're actively doing something with another person.

Spending Christmas Day alone can also be a good time to defy expectations and do whatever you want to do, without the traditional holiday constraints. It might be the perfect time to indulge in a backlog of books and films. Additionally, instead of worrying about Christmas dinner, why not treat yourself to a takeaway and support a local restaurant?


5. Talk to someone

"Yes, it is 'just another day', but it must be so hard to push aside the feelings of loss and loneliness."

Don't bottle it up - it can have a negative impact on your mental health. If you feel lonely, even if just from time to time, talk to someone. Whether it's a counsellor, a family member or a friend, it's far better to acknowledge your feelings and understand that they are valid and real.

The Silver Line has a helpline that allows people who may be feeling alone to make personal connections, and The Campaign to End Loneliness has lots of information on loneliness and how to get support. And don't forget, there's a large community of supportive people to chat with here on Gransnet (some of whom will be dealing with the same feelings), even over the Christmas period.

We at Gransnet have given some suggestions as to how you should spend your Christmas, but the important thing is that you look after yourself, and make sure you feel as comfortable as possible. 

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