This year, the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy cited loneliness as not only a crisis in America, but also an epidemic. Feeling alone is not just an unpleasant emotion you need to learn to live with, as it effects out physical health as well. Research reflects that a sense of loneliness can lead to inflammation, heart disease, and more. Unsurprisingly, this sense of loneliness during the holiday season can be especially poignant.
Feeling isolated from time to time is natural, but it is important to understand why and nip it in the bud before it becomes something deeper. This article will give you the rundown of why you feel lonely, how you feel lonely, and what to do if you feel lonely.
So Many Ways to Be Lonely
In order to keep away the lonesome blues during the holiday season, it is important to understand why you are feeling this way. According to Psychology Today, there are 7 distinct types of loneliness. Here is a run-down.
#1. A New Situation – You are a new person in a new place. If you just switched jobs, moved to the city, or are the new person at school what you are feeling is new-situation loneliness.
#2. I am Different – If you feel as though you are different from the people around you, you may be experiencing this type of loneliness. Maybe everyone around you grew up together except you. It could be you feel deeply passionate about a social issue that no one else around you cares about.
#3. No Romantic Partner – Sometimes, simply not having a partner during the holidays can drag you down.
#4. No Pets– Maybe you deeply want a fish, cat, or dog, but right now is just not the right time. Maybe seeing pictures of cats dressed up like Santa depresses you. This is no-animal loneliness in action.
#5 No Available Friends – This tends to happen when your friends and family make life changes. No one has time for you, and you feel lonely.
#6 Bad Friends – If you do not trust your friends, you may feel lonely. You can have a lot of fun with a lot of bad friends over the years. However, at the end of the day, you ultimately felt unfulfilled.
#7. No Warm Body – Maybe you are completely satisfied with your social life and your work-life balance. However, you miss the feeling of another person sharing your home. Living alone can be difficult sometimes, especially around the holidays.
10 Tricks to Keep Loneliness at Bay
1. Find Like-minded People to Connect With – Try joining a Meetup.com group, a book club, or a workout class. Eventually, you will have a community.
2. Stay Healthy – This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising. All of these things have been found to improve mood.
3. Work on Existing Bonds – We now know intimate bonds are necessary to happiness. Work on fortifying your current friendships, whether long-distance or close-by.
4. Learn from Your Experiences – Ask yourself what you can learn from your loneliness, and how you can put your new appreciation for connections into practice.
5. Mindfulness – Identify your thoughts when you feel lonely. Many times you will have self-defeating thoughts about your state of mind. Realize these are just thoughts and do not attach any significance to them.
6. Show Self-Compassion – Develop and nurture compassion, love, and acceptance of yourself. You can treat yourself to an act of kindness, or meditate on directing love toward yourself. In addition, you can practice self-soothing techniques.
7. Get Comfortable with Yourself – It sounds cliché, but in order to beat loneliness, it is important to try and become comfortable alone. Sometimes people get down about doing fun activities alone. However, if you learn to work through the self-conscious thoughts you can actually start enjoying time with yourself!
8. Get that Pet –Sometimes, you just have to go for what you want in the pursuit of happiness! Animals can increase our ‘feel good’ hormones, so heading to the dog park or even a petting zoo can help.
9. Plan Ahead – If you know you get lonely during the holiday season, make a plan ahead of time. List some things that make you happy or that you want to try. Then, bust out this list when you are feeling alone.
10. Make Giving a Habit – Giving doesn’t necessarily mean money. This time of year especially, there are many opportunities to volunteer in the community.
When dealing with loneliness during the holiday season, it is important to remember you are not alone. So if you are feeling blue, cut yourself some slack and practice some the above tips.