9 Tips for Beating Loneliness During the Holidays
If you’re going to be alone during the holidays and you have clinical depression, you’re looking at a double whammy that could do a number on you before the end of the year. By Christmas Eve, your depression voice might be telling you that you’re a sad loser - unless you come up with some countermeasures. Keep these suggestions in mind:
- If you’re alone because someone close to you has died, or because your marriage or relationship has ended, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
- Ask yourself - are you actually okay with being alone during the holidays, but feel that you should be spending it with other people? We’re all bombarded with images of happy families spending time together during the holidays. Remember that as wonderful as it can be to be with family, it’s also very stressful.
- Sometimes it’s better to be on your own than the alternative. I remember one horrible Thanksgiving that I spent with my boyfriend and his mother (who I was meeting for the first time.) For some reason that I never figured out, she loathed me on sight. As I was eating the less than sublime food, I’d look up and see her glaring at me. After about an hour, I felt that spending Thanksgiving home alone with Swanson’s frozen turkey dinner was the plan I should have gone with.
- Don’t tell yourself that it’s not worth decorating or cooking when it’s just you. Trust me, the lack of any festivity will make you feel more depressed. What’s wrong with decorating your place or cooking a special meal just for yourself? Chances are that doing the holiday activities that you’re used to doing with family or friends will give you a lift.
- Don’t hide the fact that you’re spending the holidays alone from acquaintances or colleagues. If you’re frank about it, it’s possible that someone will invite you over for Christmas dinner.
- Don’t drink. Alone and drunk is not a good combination. Chances are that you’ll become maudlin and more depressed. If you want to have a special drink for the holidays that’s not alcoholic, try caramel apple cider or gingerbread coffee.
- Line up a special treat for yourself, like a museum visit, a concert or something else that will get you out of the house and make the holidays memorable.
- Do some of the things that you did as a child, like watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or making Christmas cookies.
- You don’t have to be alone at the holidays. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships. Volunteer your time to serve or deliver holidays meals for people in need. Ask your local hospital if the children’s ward needs volunteers.
Deborah Gray wrote about depression as a Patient Expert for HealthCentral. She lived with undiagnosed clinical depression, both major episodes and dysthymia, from childhood through young adulthood. She was finally diagnosed at age 27, and since that time, her depression has been successfully managed with medication and psychotherapy.