7 Secrets for Surviving a Lonely Christmas
You may feel alone, but my tips on how to cope with the “holiday blues” will comfort and cheer you! Here’s how to survive a lonely Christmas, with inspiration from one of my favorite Christmas quotes:
“Isn’t it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for — I don’t know what exactly, but it’s something that you don’t mind so much not having at other times,” said Kate L. Bosher. I get it! There is something about Christmas that pulls at my heart and soul, even if I’m not actively dealing with depression or coping with the loss of someone I love. I know what depression feels like – but the holiday blues goes deeper than depressed feelings. Feeling lonely at Christmas is like a heartachey homesickness that can’t be fixed at Santa’s workshop. If you’re coping with Christmas loneliness, my tips will help you see that you’re not alone…
I think part of the reason we feel lonely and homesick at Christmas – even if we’re at home surrounded by people who love us – is that our childhood Christmases are gone forever. Only the memories and distant feelings of pure joy and excitement remain. Remember falling asleep on Christmas Eve, wondering if you’ll hear Santa’s reindeer on the roof? Christmas for kids is full of wonder and magic, even if we have problems at home. I grew up in and out of foster homes because my mom struggles with schizophrenia, and even so I remember our frugal, sparse, lonely Christmases as the best times of my childhood.
And that’s why every year I find myself filled with nostalgia and the “holiday blues” at Christmas: I miss the innocence and joy of being a kid during the holiday season. I’ll never get that back, and it makes me sad.
Why are you lonely this season? I hope you share your story of the holiday blues in the comments section below. Writing is a healthy way to process your feelings, and your story will show other readers they’re not alone. Even if you don’t write about your lonely Christmas here, consider writing in your private journal or even just a scrap piece of paper! Writing can bring clarity and comfort, insight and healing.
How to Cope With Loneliness at Christmas
My first three tips for coping with the holiday blues are the things that work best for me. Every person is different, though. You need to figure out what works for you – and you may need to experiment a little!
For instance, if you know you’re having a lonely Christmas because of physiological reasons (eg, the shorter daylight hours during the wintertime has a natural “downer” effect on many people), read What is SAD? Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you’re coping with a recent death or loss of a loved one, read Words of Comfort When Your Heart is Broken.
It’s important to understand the cause of your loneliness at Christmas. If you can figure out the specific reasons you feel sad and alone, you’ll have an easier time coping with the holiday blues. My tips for surviving a lonely Christmas are based on my own feelings of homesickness and sadness. Every year I yearn for something more meaningful and and deep over the holiday season.
1. Get involved with Christmas Camp
The year before I got married, I volunteered at a Christmas Camp for adults with physical and mental disabilities. Every year, Easter Seals organizes a Camp Horizon in Bragg Creek Alberta – it’s a four day sleepover camp for mentally and physically challenged adults from 18 to 80 years old. That was the best Christmas of my adult life! As a volunteer, I was assigned to help a 58 year old woman with Downs Syndrome. My job was to assist her with the Christmas crafts, sleigh rides, doggy visits, meals, carol singing, cookie decorating, present opening, waking up in the morning, brushing teeth at night…whatever she needed. I helped her have a fantastic Christmas, and she loved every minute of it. So did I!
Volunteering your time is the best way to cope with a lonely Christmas. You may not be able to volunteer four nights at a Christmas Camp, but you could call a local church, nonprofit organization, food bank, or social services organization to see what type of help they need.
2. Go against the Christmas tide
This Christmas, I’m going back to Camp Horizon to volunteer as a sleepover camp helper from December 22-26.
I’ve been married for 11 years and have spent every Christmas with my husband’s family (I don’t have family, which is why I always feel those holiday blues at Christmas). The past Christmases with my husband’s family have been good, but I need more. I need to serve, to find ways to make Christmas more meaningful and special. Every year I feel lonely at Christmas because I want more joy, more service, more connection.
So this year I decided to volunteer over Christmas instead of spending it with the family…and I’m sad and surprised that my decision isn’t going over as well as I thought it would! I really didn’t realize how important my presence is to my husband and mother-in-law. I feel sad that they’ll miss me on Christmas morning, but I don’t feel guilty or bad about my decision.
3. Know that you are more loved than you realize
Do you feel lonely this Christmas because you feel alone? Maybe you lost your husband, or your kids are halfway around the world. Maybe you’re coping with the holiday blues because your pet died or you can’t go home for Christmas. You may feel lonely for many different reasons…but I suspect you are more loved than you know. If I’m more loved than I realize – and I don’t have my own family nor do I spend time with the family I married into – then I suspect you, too, would be missed if you weren’t here.
And I know it sounds like a cliche, but I’ll say it anyway: God loves you. Truly, madly, deeply! You are were created exactly the way you are for a purpose. Your personality, temperament, strengths, weaknesses, physical characteristics, emotional qualities – God made you the way you. And, He loves you. That’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? God loves you so much, He sent Jesus to bring you life, freedom, forgiveness, and power. All you need to do is believe and receive.
If you need a hug, read 7 Things to Remember When You Feel Like No One Cares. It’ll help if you feel unwanted and alone over the Christmas holiday season.
4. Grieve the loss of your loved ones
Something tells me you’re searching for “lonely Christmas” because someone you love died. Have you grieved your loss? The grief process is painful, but necessary. You’ll never be the same after losing someone you love; you need to find healthy ways to adjust and adapt to this season of your life. The holidays are painful without the person you love. Christmas is bleak, lonely, and sad when you aren’t with people you care about. I know. I get it. It hurts to be alone.
Learn how to grieve. I’m not talking about the stages of grief; rather, I mean working through your grief so you process your loss in healthy ways. This won’t erase your feelings of loneliness at Christmas and in the new year, but it will help you move forward in peace and acceptance.
5. Avoid Facebook – it increases lonely feelings at Christmas
I often feel sad after spending time on Facebook. Long before social media research started showing that Facebook is linked to feelings of depression, anxiety and narcissistic behavior, I knew I felt lonely after scrolling through all my friends’ updates and photos.
Even though I have a Facebook profile and I even created a “She Blossoms” Facebook group, I rarely visit the site. It drains my energy and wastes my time. It’s not just that it creates more of a lonely Christmas feeling for me – it increases my loneliness and sadness at all times of the year. It’s not envy, though research suggests that social comparison and envy is the reason people feel depressed after spending time on Facebook. I just feel like there are so many people I really like and love, and they aren’t part of my daily life! I guess it’s complicated, but the bottom line is that avoiding Facebook is one of my best ways to cope with loneliness at Christmas.
What about you – does Facebook decrease or increase your holiday blues? If you feel worse after spending time on social media, then find other ways to spend your time. Facebook is addictive, but if you replace it with other healthier things, you will feel less lonely at Christmas.
6. Find meaningful ways to spend your time
What do you love to do? What brings you alive, makes your heart leap, increases your blood pressure, makes your face light up? Do it. Do what makes you happy, for the years are passing more quickly than you realize.
Me, I love to go for a walk/jog from 5:30 to 6:30 am. I listen to Joyce Meyer or Timothy Keller podcasts, and I breathe deeply and sweat profusely. I feel great just thinking about my dark morning runs – and I like the winter runs better, because I can sing and talk to myself without anyone noticing! The summer months bring more people out, even at 5:30 am…but in the winter I have the streets to myself. Me and the skunks.
Tell me what you love to do! If you’re not passionate about anything, then it’s time to start exploring. Excavate your soul: what did you love to do when you were a kid, or before you lost your mojo? What used to be your source of joy and passion? I bet there was a time you weren’t searching the internet for loneliness at Christmas because you were captivated by your activities.
7. Embrace a new season in your life
The last season of your life is over – and maybe it’s been over for years now. It’s time for you to let go, move on, and look ahead with fresh eyes. A new season has begun – and not just a holiday season! Start thinking ahead, past your current feeling of being alone on Christmas.
Brainstorm ridiculous ideas for your life. Create absurd plans. Wonder what it’d be like to Blossom, to flourish, to start to come alive in a new season in your life. Don’t be afraid to look up and say Hello to God. Maybe you’re mad at Him because of the way your life has turned out, or maybe you feel powerless and anxious about the future. Maybe you’re just sad and lonely, and it has nothing to do with the Christmas holiday season. Maybe you’re always fighting feelings of loneliness because you’re spiritually empty.
You will always feel lonely if you aren’t connected to a source of light, life, and power. I call this source God, others call it a Higher Power or “the universe.” Whatever you name it, it is so incredibly powerful and present! It is calling you – that is why you’re struggling with these feelings of loneliness and emptiness.
And you know it’s not just a lonely Christmas you’re struggling with…it’s a lonely life. The holiday season just magnifies what already exists. The only long-term solution is to get spiritually and emotionally connected to God, so you can find meaning and purpose in your life.
Practical Tips for Coping With a Lonely Christmas
Here’s a quick roundup of the most common ways to survive loneliness during the Christmas season. You’ll find these tips everywhere every holiday season, but I thought I’d give you a reminder…
- If you’re grieving a recent death or loss of a loved one, allow time and space for your feelings to heal. Don’t push yourself to “get over it” or stop grieving, and don’t judge yourself. Honor your feelings and know that it is okay to feel sad, depressed, and lonely at Christmas.
- Talk about your lost loved one in your conversations and even your holiday celebrations.
- Hang a stocking for the person; ask your family and friends to write their memories and thoughts about the person and put those notes in the stocking.
- Spend time looking at and sharing photos of your lost spouse or loved one. When your family and friends realize you are comfortable talking about him, they may share their own stories and memories.
- If you have Christmas responsibilities that you feel unable to cope with, ask for help. You don’t have to go into details of how and why you’re having a lonely Christmas. Just ask for a hand preparing meals, shopping, wrapping presents, etc.
- Try not to isolate yourself, because it’ll increase your feelings of loneliness over the Christmas holiday season. Be active in making plans with people you enjoy spending time with.
- Do something for others: volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen, visit lonely and shut-in people, ask someone who is alone to share Christmas with your family, offer help for a needy family, look for ways to make someone else’s holiday happier and less lonely.
- Remember that the anticipation of your Christmas holiday alone can be much worse than the actual holiday. Try not to let anxiety or loneliness overwhelm you – don’t let your emotions overpower the season.
- Donate a Christmas gift or money in your lost loved one’s name.
- Get enough sleep, exercise, and yummy nutritious food that energizes your body.
- Plan for the approaching holidays and be prepared for difficult feelings of loneliness or depression on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Be aware that this might be a very painful or difficult time for you. You may find yourself more stressed than usual, and the Christmas stress may negatively affect you emotionally, cognitively, and physically. This is normal response to grief and loneliness at Christmas.
- Accept that if you recently lost a loved one, your Christmas holidays won’t be the same. You can’t keep everything as it was, especially if this is your first Christmas alone. Find creative ways to do things differently – while preserving continuity with the past.
- Take time alone, but don’t cut yourself off from the support of family and friends. The best way to cope with a lonely Christmas may be to force yourself to spend time with others.
- Avoid taking on more Christmas responsibilities or commitments than you can handle. Don’t add stress to your holiday season; decide what you really want to do, and let go of what you can avoid.
My friend, we have now reached the end of our journey together. What do you think about my tips for coping with a lonely Christmas? I can’t offer advice, but I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience.
“Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.” ~ Carol Nelson.
I wish you peace and joy, comfort and hope, and all God’s blessings this Christmas season.