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Many people feel lonely at this time of year. Here are tips to help you manage those feelings.

The holidays are typically a time for celebration and connection, but some people find they feel lonely during this time of the year, especially if they are far from family and friends or have lost loved ones. Even people who have busy social calendars during the holidays may experience loneliness. That’s because being lonely isn’t just about being alone, with no people around. You can feel lonely even in the midst of others.

Loneliness is more about your state of mind than whether you are around other people. You may feel empty, unwanted or find it hard to make meaningful connections with the people you’re with. This feeling can impact your mental health, making you feel anxious, stressed or depressed. It may also cause physical issues, such as sleep disturbances, headaches and digestive problems.

Here are a few tips to help you manage feelings of loneliness during the holidays, and at any time of year:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay to feel lonely during the holidays – many people do. Don’t try to bottle up your emotions or pretend you’re not feeling down. Allow yourself to feel your feelings and then find healthy ways to cope with them.
  • Do things you enjoy. Make time for activities that make you happy. Whether it’s reading, listening to music or spending time in nature, doing things you enjoy can help to boost your mood and reduce feelings of loneliness.
  • Connect with others. Even if you’re feeling isolated, there are still ways to connect with others. Reach out to friends and family, even if it’s just for a quick phone call or video chat. You can also attend community events or volunteer for a cause you care about.
  • Be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Eat healthy meals, get enough sleep and exercise regularly. Avoid overindulging in alcohol or drugs.
  • Rethink your expectations. The holidays are often portrayed as a time for perfect family gatherings and joy. But the reality is that this time of year can be stressful and overwhelming for everyone. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have a perfect holiday season.
  • Be present. When spending time with others, try to be fully present in the moment. Put away your phone and focus on the people you’re with. Pay attention to the positive aspects of your interactions rather than the negative ones to get the most out of the time you’re with others.
  • Give back. Helping other people is a great way to feel connected and can reduce feelings of loneliness. Consider volunteering your time to a local charity or homeless shelter.

If you’re struggling to manage your loneliness during the holidays, it’s important to reach out for help. Talk to a friend, family member, therapist or other mental health professional. They can offer support and guidance as you cope with your feelings.

“Loneliness can be a more common feeling than is appreciated during this festive time of the year.  Recognizing that loneliness is common this time of year can empower you to reach out to co-workers, friends, or distant relatives to try to build better relationships with others.  Many people are looking for opportunities to gather together this time of the year, and you can be the one who begins new traditions and creates new relationships.”

-Blake M. Bourgoyne, MD

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Date Last Reviewed: October 19, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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