By Chelsie Batterman, T-LMLP
Well, it’s that time of the year. The time for gratitude and good cheer. The time for joy, shopping, parties, and people. The time for eating, drinking, and merriment. But for many of us, the most wonderful time of the year becomes the loneliest.
Despite ongoing opportunities for celebration, we may feel least connected to others during the holiday season. Maybe this is because seasonal optimism compels us to face the reality of unfulfilling relationships or reminds us of those who are no longer with us. Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe it’s the prospect of a new year. Or maybe we can’t explain it at all. Like the seasons, our loneliness may deepen and then fade.
While we value and need connection for our well-being, loneliness is another aspect of the human experience. Even through our discomfort, viewing these feelings as a motivator may propel us to seek the growth we crave. Growing out of loneliness involves others, but as with any change, it starts with the self. Here are ideas for a path forward.
1. Recognize those feelings
Self-connection means that we must first acknowledge our feelings. Given the pace of our lives, loneliness might feel awkward, painful, or even embarrassing. Allow yourself permission to feel this way.
2. Understand loneliness as a shared experience
Know that you are not alone in being lonely. When we’re under emotional duress, we may idealize the lives of others. However, the disquiet of loneliness is far from uncommon. Sometimes, our pain creates an enhanced awareness for understanding others. Our having “been there” with loneliness augments relatability.
3. Cultivate gratitude
Through the difficulty of loneliness, we develop an enhanced sensitivity for gratefulness. In coping with loneliness, we are reminded of the preciousness of wellness. Mindfully reframing loneliness as an opportunity to enhance wellness could be a catalyst toward healing.
4. Foster social connection
Once we’ve connected with our feelings, it may feel right to reach out. Leave it to our loneliness to foster the agency to overcome and empower us to create quality relationships. When things need to change, we often benefit from nurturing new social interactions. This is likely to manifest in a variety of ways – from friendships to engaging in small acts of kindness or even volunteering in the local community.
5. Talk it through
It’s always okay to want to help and to be helped. Loneliness shouldn’t last forever. Processing our experience externally is an important action step in moving forward. When needed, ask for help because life can get better.
Are you struggling this season and need support? We understand and can help you. Start thriving today.