While this time of year brings excitement and joy, it also typically brews sadness, loneliness, jealousy, disappointment, and anxiety.
These feelings can become especially overwhelming as you reflect on your life circumstances and come to terms with being single.
So, why does this season bring up difficult emotions, particularly loneliness?
Holidays breed high expectations and anticipation as there is pressure to celebrate, shop, eat, gather, give, cheer, etc. While there are many positive effects of celebrating the new year, the pressure can be intense.
Another common reason to feel lonely is because it is the natural time for contemplation, reflection, and assessment. Your mind may negatively or harshly judge you or your year as you ponder what went wrong in your love life and why you are still single. Falsely believing that love and happiness are present for everyone but you fuels negative beliefs about yourself and others. These flawed beliefs induce feelings of sadness, loneliness, and loss.
It is essential to remember reflection is good and healthy, but not when it leads you to beating yourself up or believing the grass is always greener. Make sure you don’t let the negative outweigh any positive growth or accomplishments that took place throughout last year. The key is to grow from reflection, not to self-shame.
No matter where your loneliness originated, it does not have to take over or control your life. To combat loneliness around and to avoid suffering more, here are four strategies:
1. Show up for yourself
Validating your emotions and acknowledging how you feel (even if the feeling is completely uncomfortable or miserable) are so important for healing and feeling better. Feelings that are unacknowledged tend to persist and intensify, so remember to do the opposite. Be present with your emotions and resist shaming yourself for feeling lonely or avoiding how you feel. Give yourself permission to feel and understand that you are not alone.
2. Seek company and get out
When you feel lonely, it is common to feel inclined to isolate more. Being alone and feeling unhappy about it naturally leads to rumination and more negative thoughts. It is also more apparent that you are alone in the absence of others. Isolation strengths loneliness, so doing the opposite, and seeking connection and company is healthier. Contact a friend, take a social risk, go to a movie, walk around a museum, exercise, read in a coffee shop, etc. Be out in the world and don’t give into the temptation to hibernate for days on end.
3. Practice self-care
If you’ve read my other articles, you might think I sound like a broken record when it comes to self-love and self-care. However, taking good care of yourself and treating yourself well are the very means to increasing self-esteem, especially during difficult times. Include yourself when brainstorming gifts for others and remember that nice, compassionate gestures don’t have to cost a penny. Like to cook? Try out a delicious recipe on yourself. Like the outdoors? Take a walk or hike. Bottom line: Self-care is essential and healthy; not selfish.
4. Volunteer and take deliberate action to make a difference
Volunteering and getting involved are powerful remedies to loneliness because they build a bridge for you to feel needed and achieve a level of intimacy. When you surround yourself with like-minded people who share similar values, passions, and interests, you feel connected and secure. Giving back also reinforces that you are making a difference in the world. It also gets you out of the house. Get involved by researching volunteer opportunities and organizations that interest you. You will feel better by giving, so remember to be a part of the world and avoid attempting to solve loneliness with further isolation.
About the Author:
Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Nationally Certified Counselor and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Rachel is a co-author to Sexy Secrets to a Juicy Love Life, an International Bestseller, written to support single women in decreasing frustration about single-hood, leaving the past behind, cultivating self-love and forming and maintaining loving relationships. Rachel also serves as a Relationship Expert for http://www.datingadvice.com/ and other dating and relationship advice websites. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!