The holiday season, often celebrated as a time of joy, can sometimes intensify feelings of loneliness for many individuals. Despite the joyful scenes portrayed on screens, the reality is that loneliness, especially during Christmas, affects a significant number of people.
Research by Age UK shows that up to 1.5 million older people suffer from loneliness over the festive season, with those who have been bereaved feeling the loneliness most profoundly.
However, loneliness doesn’t discriminate based on age, and people from all walks of life may feel the weight of societal expectations to enjoy the season’s festivities. The emphasis on togetherness and family gatherings can exacerbate loneliness for those who live alone, lack social connections, or have experienced grief or loss. Mind’s latest research shows that a third of people are too ashamed to admit they are lonely at Christmas.
Physical Impacts of Loneliness
Loneliness isn’t just an emotional challenge; it can affect our physical wellbeing. Research suggests that loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%, putting it on par with well-known health risks such as obesity and smoking.
Due to the profound impacts of loneliness, we explore ways to positively influence those who may struggle during the festive season.
5 Tips to Help Overcome Loneliness:
Here are five practical tips to help combat loneliness and boost overall wellbeing.
- Stay Virtually Connected: Embrace the convenience of video calls and social media platforms to bridge the physical gap. Apps like Whatsapp and FaceTime make virtual gatherings accessible, fostering a sense of togetherness for everyone.
- Embrace Acts of Kindness: Beyond boosting your mood, helping others has tangible physical benefits. Volunteer for a local charity or extend a helping hand to a neighbour. Small gestures can significantly reduce feelings of isolation.
- Strategically Plan Your Time: Proactively structure your schedule to combat potential loneliness. Plan enjoyable activities in advance and document them in your calendar. This not only commits you to follow through but also generates positive anticipation.
- Prioritise Outdoor Activities: Despite the cold, prioritise outdoor activities. Exercise is proven to be as effective as medication and therapy for mild anxiety and depression. Consider meeting a friend for a walk to reap the benefits of companionship and movement.
- Indulge in Self-Care: Allocate time for self-care and activities you enjoy. Treat yourself to your favourite festive foods, indulge in cosy movie nights or engage in creative hobbies. Spending quality time alone can be fulfilling when centred around personal enjoyment.
By acknowledging and addressing feelings of loneliness, we can collectively contribute to creating a more supportive and inclusive festive season for everyone.
If you have access to PAM Wellbeing’s EAP service and you have feelings of loneliness this festive period, please reach out for support via the helpline or pam-assist.co.uk using your organisation code. Alternatively, request this information from your manager or HR department to access your EAP.