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How To Get Through The Holidays When You're Struggling With Mental Health

Updated: Apr 22

How To Get Through The Holidays When You're Struggling With Mental Health

‘Tis the season to be jolly. Or is it?

One of my college friends, Ruth, told me she just sleeps as much as possible to avoid the holiday loneliness. “It’s like a punch in the gut.” She said, “Here I am again, just like last year, still lonely.”

Just like Ruth, many people feel depressed during the holiday season. According to a 2017 AARP survey, 31 percent of adults who are 18 stated they have felt lonely during the holiday season.

The holiday season is the time to socialize and celebrate. Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Easter, or any other holiday. However, it can also be a time when people may experience depression, anxiety, and stress. People who have lost their loved ones, for example, have a hard time during the holidays and struggle with their psychological well-being.

Mental health issues are common and treatable. You can overcome these challenges and lead a fulfilling life with the right support and resources. This blog post provides strategies to cope with the holiday's loneliness and depression.

11 Strategies To Manage Holiday Loneliness Like Home Alone’s Kevin McCallister

Firstly, we are sorry that you are feeling this way. Experiencing brief episodes of loneliness is an integral part of the human experience. Anyone can feel lonely at any time. For some people, this feeling peaks during the holidays when they have more expectations. Holiday loneliness is real and happens to many people.

Kindly note that this is different from chronic loneliness because the latter is more continual. Chronic loneliness is treated via cognitive behavioral therapy. (The strategies listed below are to deal with loneliness and not chronic loneliness specifically)

The following are strategies to manage the holiday loneliness like a pro.

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

Acknowledging one’s feelings of loneliness is an important step to managing it. It is important to recognize that loneliness is a common human experience and that sometimes it is okay to feel lonely.

Accepting your emotions can help you understand yourself and your emotions. It can also help you find ways to deal with it.

Next, despite what you may see around you, for instance, people having big family dinners, couples dining out during the holiday season, etc., you aren’t alone in feeling this way.

Holidays trigger feelings that you are the only one out there. You start delving into the things that are missing from your life. So, as you acknowledge your feelings, remember you are not the only person on Earth who is feeling this way.


“Feelings are something you have; not something you are.” ⁠—Shannon L. Alder

2. Use Technology

Can’t be with your mom during the holidays? Facetime with her. Or have a Zoom gathering with all your family members. Share pictures, and ask them about their plans. Use these tools to celebrate your special moments with your loved ones regardless of how far you are.

According to Simon Mainwaring, a famous branding expert:

"Technology is teaching us to be human again."

3. Make Friends

Look around. There might be people who may be feeling the same as you. Reach out to them. Someone in your circle, friends or relatives, may be single and alone like you. Contact them. Make plans to go somewhere, do something fun.

"In the tapestry of life, friends are the threads that add warmth and color, especially during lonely holidays." - Unknown

4. Build Your Own Village

This one’s our favorite. Don't know anyone to celebrate Christmas with? Get out of the house. Meet your neighbors. Join an activity you enjoy and make friends in the process. It might be hard, but it sure is not impossible. Right?

If you don’t have decent friends in life to share good times with, work on getting those people in your life. It’s okay not to be embarrassed about your situation. So, for example, if someone asks about your holiday plans. Tell them how holidays are a tough time for you.

"It's okay to ask for help. Nobody gets through life on their own." - Rickey Henderson

5. Volunteer

Volunteering is another fantastic way to participate and give back to a community. You might be going through a rough patch. You probably hate spending your Christmas season this way. However, the truth is that there are a lot of people out there who are living worse off than us. We don’t realize that until we see them and observe how hard it may be for them.

Volunteering for people who are worse off will divert your mind off your loneliness. It is also a great chance to go out of your comfort zone.

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi

6. Be Alone But Not Lonely

Being alone is different from being lonely. Embracing solitude means becoming comfortable with being alone. Do what you like to do.

Take a stroll around the city and watch the holiday lights by yourself. Eat at an expensive restaurant. You might be surprised how much fun it can be to be by yourself and do things you love.

"The best thinking has been done in solitude." - Thomas A. Edison

7. Create a Holiday Bucket List

Always wanted to attend a Mariah Carey concert? Go by yourself this holiday (I am not sure if she still sings, though. 😂) Create a bucket list of your favourite things you like to do. Still confused? Read this story.

Once upon a time, there was a woman named Sarah. She was single and lived alone in a small apartment in the city. As the holiday season approached, Sarah began to feel lonely and isolated. She missed her family and friends who lived far away and wished she had someone to share the holidays with.

One day, Sarah decided to take matters into her own hands. She created a holiday bucket list of things to do during the holidays. Her list included baking cookies, watching holiday movies, volunteering at a local shelter, and walking in the park to see the holiday lights.

Sarah was determined to make the most of the holiday season, even alone. She started by baking gingerbread cookies and decorating them with colourful icing. The smell of freshly baked cookies filled her apartment, and she felt a sense of warmth and comfort.

Next, Sarah watched her favourite holiday movies, including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol.” She laughed and cried along with the characters, feeling grateful for the simple pleasures in life.

On Christmas Eve, Sarah volunteered at a local shelter, serving meals to the homeless. She felt a sense of purpose and fulfillment, knowing she was making a difference in someone’s life.

Finally, Sarah took a walk in the park to see the holiday lights. The park was filled with families, but Sarah didn’t feel alone. She felt a sense of connection to the world around her, knowing that she was part of something bigger than herself.

In the end, Sarah realized that being single during the holidays didn’t have to be a lonely experience. By creating a holiday bucket list and taking action, she was able to find joy and meaning in the season.

The purpose of sharing this story is to convey the message that sometimes, we have to create our own happiness. Happiness comes from within, and holidays are a time to celebrate life and love, regardless of your relationship status.

8. Limit Social Media

Social media is a complete train wreck for you if you feel lonely. It can create false expectations in people about relationships, leading to feelings of loneliness and depression.

A study by psychologist Melisse G. Hunt has shown that social media use decreases feelings of well-being. Social media platforms like Instagram usually show people posting only “happy” content. This creates a distorted view of reality and increases people's FOMO (fear of missing out). Not just this, people feel that their lives are not as fulfilling as others.

Hence, limit your time on social media and don’t trust everything you see on Instagram. Grass may seem greener on the other side, but trust us when we say that all that glitters is not gold. Social media is NOT an accurate reflection of life.

9. Consult a Therapist

When you feel lonely, telling others how you feel is a good idea. You can talk to anyone close to you.

Or you can seek help and also consult a therapist. Consulting a therapist or psychotherapist can give your thoughts a third dimension about how to overcome your depression. Therapy increases your sense of worth and well-being. Therapists aren’t judgemental; they help you to talk about your feelings. As a result, you feel more relaxed because they allow you to talk about your depression and release your emotions.

Therapy is also great to help de-escalate your negative feelings before they cause more harm. Hence, before your mental health gets worse, seek help from a therapist. If you are looking for a therapist, you can meet our team here.

10. Practice Gratitude

Isn’t practicing gratitude what Thanksgiving is all about? Practicing gratitude can be so fulfilling, especially if you make it a habit.

The reality is that regardless of how hard you think your situation is, there are people in worse circumstances than you. It’s easy to let ourselves fill up with negativity.

Keep a gratitude journal and make a list of things that you are grateful for. Practice mindfulness by learning to live in the present. Living in the present makes your problems go away. If you enjoy reading, we recommend reading The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

11. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

You see people your age having a blast during the holidays. Families are having large turkey dinners during Thanksgiving or couples are ice-skating nearby. It can be hard to stop comparing ourselves to others. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s journey is different.

Comparing ourselves to others can be an unfair and unrealistic standard to hold ourselves to. Instead, we can focus on our own progress and growth and celebrate our journey.

Key Takeaways

Sometimes, things happen. You can’t meet your family as you’re too far away, you’re single or don’t have anyone to celebrate the holidays with. You have to make it out on your own. Resist the urge to stay in bed all day or bury your sorrows in the Ben & Jerry’s bowl. Don’t isolate yourself. You are not alone. You're not the only one feeling this way. Hence, reach out to people. Have a Zoom call with your family, or perhaps spend time with a friend and have a good holiday meal with them.

We hope this blog post has helped you provide ways to cope with the holiday loneliness and help you make the most of this season. Happy holidays.



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