Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years and other holidays aren’t always synonymous with happy times for everyone. I once asked a coworker what she was doing for Thanksgiving, and she replied “Oh, well, I usually get a good frozen turkey dinner (as in a TV dinner) and read a good book.” For some people, the holidays can be a very lonely time, a time where they are constantly reminded that they do not have family, or any supportive family, and that they are alone. If you fall in this category, you know that the holidays might mean more stress and unhappiness for you. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are some tips and ideas on how to deal with, or cope with loneliness during the holidays.
Did you know that some psychiatrists and other doctors prescribe volunteer work to their patients? Not only does it help them make a small (or tremendous) difference in the community, it offers multiple benefits to the volunteer as well. Volunteering can help you have a sense of meaning and importance in this crazy world. There are numerous agencies that would love to have your help. Many would be thrilled for you to volunteer year round, not just during the holidays. If you want to actually volunteer on Christmas Day, there are soup kitchens and homeless shelters that might be happy for your assistance. Most cities and large towns have a local volunteer center. Google your city/town with “volunteer center” to see if there’s one in your area. You also might call your local United Way and ask what places need volunteers.
Join a Church
Church isn’t solely a place to worship God and grow spiritually, it’s also a place to building friendships, find encouragement, and get support through tough times. I cannot imagine going through life without a church family. If you’ve never been to church,don’t be embarrassed, there are many churches that would be thrilled for you to join their family. I recommend calling a church first, asking for a one-on-one Bible study, or asking if someone will meet you at the door on your first visit. If you aren’t sure what church to choose, I personally recommend the Church of Christ. You might be able to find one in your area at http://church-of-christ.org.
Call a Crisis Hotline
I was inspired to write this article from my experience as an employee at a suicide and crisis hotline. I learned that there are many lonely, hurting people in the world. Many people do not have family to turn to when they are feeling down, or just need someone to talk to. That’s where a crisis hotline may help. Although some are focused on suicide prevention, most will take your call if you are just feeling overwhelmed, lonely, stressed, or just having a really bad time through the holidays. Look in your phone book and see there is a crisis hotline in your area – most cities and larger towns have one. If you cannot find one, and have long distance (or free long distance on your cell phone), you can call a crisis hotline that is not in your area. (We got out of town calls on the time when I worked at the crisis hotline.) Google “contact hotline” and you’ll find the links to hotlines around the country.
The trained and caring listener will help you sort out your feelings, help you find options, and just be a good listener. This is only meant to be used to help you temporarily. Avoid calling on a regular basis.
If you feel brave enough to go eat out at restaurant alone, and think you might enjoy it, I highly encourage it. Bring a book if you want. For some ideas on where to eat at, read “Restaurants Open on Christmas Day.”
Join a Meet-Up Group
Check out the website, www.meetup.com, where you will find a variety of different types of real-life groups. For example, in San Antonio, there’s the “Taste of San Antonio” group, where members eat out together as well as participating in other fun activities. Better yet, you could start your own group specifically for people in your area who are alone during the holidays. (I’m sure this would work great in a larger city.) You could arrange for everyone to eat out on Christmas Day together. I highly recommend only meeting in public at first for safety reasons.
Go to a Movie om Christmas Day
If you don’t want to spend Christmas Day completely alone at your place, consider going to a movie. If you thinking you can handle being around couples and families, I recommend getting out and going to the theater. When the lights turn off and the movie starts to play, no one will no you’re alone. It is a good way to escape and relieve some stress.
Go on A Cruise
Okay, this one only applies if you have alot of money saved and can afford it. If you are able to splurge, I recommend treating yourself to a nice cruise. My husband and I took our first cruise last year, and there was an older man at our table who was travelling alone. He was widowed and took cruises alone frequently. People travel alone on cruises all of the time. If your budget will allow it, its the perfect way to get away from the stress of the world.
This one applies to women mostly. Take a nice long hot relaxing bath, light a few candles and meditate. This can help reduce stress and be very calming. Perhaps find a good book to read as well. A few days before the holiday, consider getting a professional massage. If you’ve never had one, now is a fantastic time to do so.
IIf you don’t like being alone, and really wish you could find someone, perhaps its time to find a counselor. Getting counseling is a sign of strength. This is by no means saying that being alone is a bad thing, but that sometimes getting counseling can help you cope with loneliness and find support. If you cannot afford a counselor, call 211. Read “How to Get Social Service Help By Calling 211”, and ask the 211 operator for free or low cost counseling referrals. Most churches offer free counseling as well, you might call some local churches.
If you are a single parent, read “How to Find Support as a Single Mom.”
Take it Easy! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!