Tis the loneliest season of all?

Sarah Lahiri shares her advice on getting through a lonely festive period.

Sarah Lahiri
13th December 2020

Feelings of loneliness are difficult to deal with at any time of the year. With 2020 making it clear that it quite literally is every man for themselves, some degree of isolation has affected all of us at one point or another.

Like everything this year, the festive season has dramatically changed and for a lot of us, coping with the new dynamic has and will continue to be difficult. Adding in the forced festive cheer, emphasis on togetherness and constant expectation to be merry, Christmas can be a lonely experience.

Image: @christmas._passion (Instagram)

Whether it’s a relationship with friends, family, partner or even one with yourself, loneliness is not uncommon. Celebrating Christmas during COVID is likely going to accentuate that. I am no stranger to the feeling and whilst I am certainly no expert, this is what I have learnt.

Tis the season to be...whatever you want it to be.

Although it's difficult to look beyond the disgustingly cute holiday adverts, well wishes and cheery songs, it is important to know that at most times, that isn’t what it really is. Christmas looks different for everyone and letting go of the expectations of this time of year is the first step in acknowledging how you feel. You don’t have to have a big family, loads of money or tons of friends to be jolly. And even if you aren’t jolly, that’s still okay. Putting unrealistic pressure on yourself to fit into the expectations of festivity is detrimental, despite what the many commercials and sappy social media posts suggest.

You may feel lonely, but you are not alone

It pains me to admit that the million times you’ve heard this doesn’t make it any less true. Even if you feel isolated physically (thank you government guidelines), you don’t have to feel the same mentally. There are countless people in the same boat, especially this year, and there is no shame in accepting that you are feeling low. If the season fills you with dread, there is always going to be someone else that feels the same. The movies and commercials are conspiring against you, you’re not the only one on the planet spending time by yourself.

Acknowledge your emotions.

It’s possible to feel alone when things are seemingly good, and it’s possible to feel alone when things are not. You feel the way you feel and rather than criticising or dismissing it, try to consciously be aware and acknowledge it. Christmas is a time to be cheery, but as the first point suggests, who made that rule? Reframe your perspective and sit with your feelings. You can choose to drown in the dread of loneliness or you can change your outlook to include gratitude for the things you do have. You’re alive, and as the pandemic has highlighted, that in itself is a blessing.

Consciously make an effort.

It’s easy to sit in your misery and wish things were different. You have to go out of your way to stay connected, you can’t wait for opportunities to come to you. Hop on that zoom call, sit with your family or seek out things that make you feel the happiest.

"You really are all you need."

If you’d rather not, that is acceptable too. Like me, if solitude is your sanctuary, try to resist the pressures of having the Christmas you think you need to have and have the one you really want to. You could choose to work your way through it, or have a self-care day, or do things that make you feel the most like yourself. You may be lonely, but that doesn’t have to consume you. You really are all you need

Feelings of loneliness are common and the holiday blues can get the best of us but it is important to know that you are not alone in that. Try your best to let go of the holiday pressure and expectations, and do what you want to. It’s one of the last challenges 2020 can throw at you, and like all the others, you will get through it and manage to have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Featured image: @Keisj4 (Unsplash)

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