We are conditioned to think of the holiday season as merry
and bright. The scent of fresh-baked
cookies fills the air, people seem to smile just a little bit brighter and
twinkling lights line the streets. How
can the holiday season be anything but magical?
For people coping with loss of a loved one, a recent divorce
or loss of a relationship, a spouse deployed in the military or various other
stressors, the holidays can actually be a very lonely time.
While it might seem like reaching out for support is the
easy the answer, consider this: people,
for the most part, get wrapped up in the busyness of the season. We all have our own traditions. We all have family to see, presents to wrap and functions to attend. In short, we
forget about our friends on the outskirts.
It’s difficult to ask for help when you know that others are
busy being so merry and bright. We’ve
endured Thanksgiving with my husband on the road. You don’t want to seek invitations because you
know that holiday time is family time, and you want to respect that. On the other hand, it can be very hard to be
alone when the rest of the world is caught up in celebration.
Reaching out a couple of times a week, even if you end up
getting the voicemail, provides a much-needed lifeline and break from the
social isolation that can feel all encompassing at times.
2. Make time.
Life certainly does get busy during the holiday season. Whether you are traveling or staying put,
chances are you have a long to-do list to tackle — in addition to the
many school functions that seem to pop up all at once.
Make time for your friend. Schedule a time to walk together.` to combat feelings of sadness and
loneliness, and it can also reduce your stress level. Making time to walk and talk will benefit
both you and your friend during the holiday season (and all year long).
A few other ideas? Tackle the to-do list together! Do your holiday shopping or baking as a team, wrap gifts together or
lick and stamp those holiday card envelopes side-by-side.
3. Encourage giving.
Helping others is a mood booster. Both kids and adults experience improved
moods after helping those in need. Consider getting your families together to participate in a holiday
People have a tendency to set unrealistic expectations when
it comes to giving back, and that actually makes it difficult to find the time
to give back. You don’t have to feed
every family, but you can feed one. You
don’t have to buy gifts for every family in need, but you can help one. Small acts of kindness and charity are every
bit as important as grand gestures. Even
something as simple as having all of the kids create and deliver cards to the
elderly can really brighten spirits all around.
4. Extend an invitation.
Yes, the holiday season is about family. But for people left behind, coping with
divorce or separation or living far away from family, often your close friends
become your family.
Your friend might not take you up on that offer to join your
holiday celebration, but I can assure you that she will appreciate the
invitation. When we include others, what
we are saying is this: We care about you
and we want you with us.
Feeling included helps decrease that dreaded social
isolation that can spike feelings of loneliness during what is supposed to be
the happiest time of the year.