Ahh, the holidays. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Right? Well… not always.
For many people, holidays can be a very lonely and stressful time of year. Despite the emotional buildup of nostalgia the holidays summon, the holidays can cause many complicated feelings, especially for people coping with strained relationships.
What is holiday loneliness?
Holiday loneliness is an intense emotional experience characterized by feelings of isolation, lack of connectedness, disappointment, and bittersweet nostalgia.
What causes holiday loneliness?
Many things can cause holiday loneliness, such as having different values from the ones your family unit celebrates or living far away from and missing loved ones. Holiday loneliness can also be the result of complicated family dynamics, and it is very common for people to be more aware of the ways in which their relationships are strained around the holidays. Understandably, this hyperawareness can lead to severe holiday loneliness.
When does holiday loneliness happen?
Holiday loneliness can happen any time of the year and for any holiday, however holiday loneliness is most felt around whatever holiday your family/community is most likely to celebrate.
How does holiday loneliness affect people?
The symptoms of holiday loneliness are very similar to the symptoms of anxiety and depression. People struggling with holiday loneliness may feel extreme disappointment, homesickness, and even grief – grief for years gone by, grief for what they feel should be but isn’t, and grief over strained relationships.
How to cope with holiday loneliness caused by strained relationships, distance, or stressful family dynamics.
Addressing the reality of holiday loneliness is important because it redirects the focus on external relationships back to the most important relationship you will ever have: your internal relationship with yourself. Strained family relationships can lead to intense feelings of disappointment and loneliness, and finding ways to connect with yourself can help boost spirits. While these coping methods may not neutralize the experience of loneliness entirely, they can bring some comfort and peace in ways that may surprise you.
4 Proven tips to find comfort and connection during the holidays.
- Give yourself permission. Family obligations make their presence most known around the holidays, and while the invitations, demands, and expectations might pile up, give yourself permission to decline festive functions if that is what you need to feel peace. Remember: expectation does not equal obligation, and the expectation for you to be a happy participant in holiday functions is just that. It’s an expectation. Not an obligation. You have the power of choice, and if you prefer to enjoy the comfort of your solitude over the emotional stress of holiday social gatherings, that’s absolutely ok.
- Do something special that is just for you. Is there an experience, activity, or something that you’ve been wanting to do? Why not do it? Whether that experience is enjoying a luxurious spa treatment, taking a glassblowing class, having a movie marathon at home with your favorite takeout, or taking a whole day to figure out how that new tech gadget you purchased works, go for it! Find or create at least one experience this holiday season that you can enjoy, and elevate it by making it an exclusive experience just for you. The point is, take time to do things that will enhance your joy at the individual level and boost your self-esteem. Plus, a little fun can go a long way.
- Reach out and cultivate connections. You know those people whose posts you always like or comment on, but you haven’t seen them in months? Why not reconnect with them? Send them a message and see if they’d like to meet up. When family relationships are strained, you can avoid loneliness by leaning into and deepening other relationships. Life really does take an entire village, and when family interactions cause emotional pain, reaching out to other friends and loved ones in your community can banish feelings of isolation and increase feelings of gratitude, joy, and connectedness.
- Connect with yourself. Holidays can trigger deep emotions, and taking the time to examine your feelings can bring clarity and calm. While this exercise may not be a quick fix, processing complex emotions and exploring what is behind your loneliness may help alleviate some of the strain you feel. Sometimes just hearing and understanding yourself can bring a deep inner–connection that no other family or friend connection can replace.
You are not alone
If holiday loneliness is something you are familiar with, then you’re not alone. It is unfortunately quite common for people to dread going to holiday parties and family celebrations, and many know what it is like to stand in a room full of people and feel completely alone. However you choose to celebrate (or not celebrate), I hope that you take time to practice self-care for holiday loneliness, and if you need some extra support, I am here to help.
Learning how to cope with holiday loneliness and manage strained relationships can help you improve your sense of well-being and connectedness. If you would like to set up a therapy or coaching session, I offer convenient virtual services with an easy pay-as-you-go scheduling feature. Please contact me to request an appointment. I would love to hear from you! I am here to make quality care as easy and accessible as possible, so if you have any questions, please let me know.
Hi there! I am Lida Far, MS, LPC, CST. I’m a licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Sex Therapist, and Coach, and I have been providing a judgement-free, no-shame-allowed space for healing and growth to flourish for over 15 years. Being entrusted with sensitive information is a privilege I take very seriously, and by leveraging a progressive approach to foundational psychotherapy techniques, I help my clients recover, regain, and revive their lives and relationships. Learn more about me or explore my services.