5 Therapist-Approved Tips for Holiday Loneliness (To Use Year-Round)
If you feel like the holidays aren’t the “most wonderful time of the year,” these tips are for you (and remember: you’re not alone).
Clinically Reviewed By: Don Gasparini Ph.D., M.A., CASAC
October 31, 2023
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The holiday season is far from the “most wonderful time of the year” for many—especially those struggling with their mental health, for whom the season tends to take a toll. Family conflicts, loss of loved ones, and other stressors can cause disappointment and sadness for many during the holidays, exacerbating the all-too-common feeling of holiday loneliness. To make this holiday season a bit easier, we polled several Charlie Health therapists for their best tips for dealing with holiday loneliness (which are also applicable year-round).
Stick to your routine
Between holiday parties and celebratory dinners, the holidays can be a time of inconsistency, leaving people feeling disconnected and lonely. Charlie Health Clinical Supervisor Tracye Freeman Valentine says maintaining a routine can be “beneficial” for maintaining normalcy and stability during this time. Whether it’s a daily walk or a weekly phone call with a loved one, your routine can be a source of control and predictability during the holidays.
Find a mindful moment
Mindfulness practices (even just spending a few minutes a day on a mindfulness app) have been shown to reduce symptoms of loneliness, according to some studies. That’s why Charlie Health Contemplative Practitioner Joanna Garvin recommends taking a mindful moment to deal with holiday loneliness. This could be as simple as grounding yourself by standing outside with bare feet or listening to a short meditation. “Pema Chodron’s meditation on loneliness helps people remember the universal nature of loneliness by imagining all the people who are lonely and sending them love, light, and positivity,” she said. “This can make you feel less lonely.”
Lean on people you trust
Or as Freeman Valentine puts it, your “circle of support,” which is the group of people you can depend on. “One’s circle can be as big or small as a person chooses and members may have distinct roles in your support system,” she says. For example, you may make dinner plans with a friend, grab coffee with a coworker, and exchange check-in texts with a family member. For those who are separated from loved ones during the holidays (a common source of holiday loneliness), Garvin suggests making a remote plan, like scheduling a virtual dinner date.
Create new traditions
If the holidays bring up painful memories, as they do for so many, consider creating new traditions with loved ones. Charlie Health Group Therapist Amy Gillaspie recommends “intentionally making new enjoyable memories, associations, and traditions this time of year,” to combat holiday loneliness—a practice she herself does. “Looking forward to the traditions my friends and I have created and will create really helps,” she said.
Seek mental health support
While these practices may help alleviate holiday loneliness, they aren’t a replacement for professional help. Ultimately, one of the best ways to combat holiday loneliness is reaching out to a mental health professional, especially one who is familiar with loneliness and holiday-related loneliness, says Freeman Valentine. Remember: you don’t have to get through the holidays alone, help is available.
How Charlie Health can help those struggling with holiday loneliness
If you or a loved one are struggling with holiday loneliness (or loneliness in general), Charlie Health is here to help. Our virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) combines peer groups, individual therapy, and family therapy for teens and young adults who need more than once-weekly mental health treatment—including those struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness around the holidays (and year-round). Charlie Health’s compassionate mental health professionals are here to listen to your story, understand your needs, and match you with an appropriate treatment plan. Fill out our short form to get started today.