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Let’s Talk: Holiday Loneliness

Knowing the difference between being alone and loneliness is important because you can be happy being alone but feeling lonely can take a toll on your mental health.

Being Alone vs Loneliness

Physically being alone does not have to be upsetting or can even be pleasant for some. Being lonely can lead to depressive or negative feelings. Loneliness can lead to negative feelings such as being detached, isolated, unwanted or unloved.

6 Tips to Combat Loneliness

1. Avoid the "Shoulds"

The holiday Hallmark movie is unrealistic for many people and can lead to thinking about what the holidays should look like. "Should" statements are inaccurate thoughts you tell yourself that can reinforce negative thinking or push you beyond your healthy boundaries. “I should be with my family on Christmas day.” Try avoiding what you "should" be doing and think about what you want to be doing and what you are comfortable doing.

2. Checking in with Yourself

If you are spending a lot of time alone or are normally with loved ones during the holidays, ask yourself “How do I feel about being alone right now?” Loneliness is a valid emotion. It is important to acknowledge the feeling and to take action.

3. Mental Shift

Social distancing is a big part of life right now. To combat loneliness try to make a mental shift of changing the term “social distancing” to “physical distancing” to help you reduce feeling lonely.

4. Practice Gratitude

Stay focused on the positives. Think of the time you do get to spend with your loved ones and not what you are missing. Maybe you don’t get to see your family in person but you can be grateful that technology allows for video chats.

5. Limit Social Media

You can be triggered by other people's posts or feel pressure to post your own pictures. Navigating social media can be particularly tricky during the holidays. Ask yourself how are you feeling when you are posting or while scrolling through other peoples posts.

6. Work with a Therapist

A therapist can help you set in place a self-care plan and healthy support systems to reduce loneliness; along with addressing any underlying issues related to loneliness.

Make a plan but also be flexible to change plans as your needs change.

Monica McNeeley is a licensed therapist, LCSW, provides online therapy in the state of California. She has been providing therapy services since 2011.

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