Are you feeling lonely or wondering how you will manage being alone during this holiday season? Holidays and other special occasions can feel like a punishment in addition to all the other non-holiday calendar years that one faces alone. When alone, I would go back and forth between thinking that I was fine alone and “didn’t need anyone”, or just busying myself and not dwelling so much on being alone, or having a pity party about being alone and wondering which friends I could call to complain about my misery.
If you are feeling lonely, or know someone who is alone/feels lonely, here’s some coping tips off the top of my head:
1) Avoid negative and unproductive thoughts. Try not to have extreme thoughts such as “Everyone has someone except me.. I should be used to it by now” or “I’m (insert negative label).. that’s why I’m alone”. Avoid allowing thoughts that dwell on regrets or other circumstances that you cannot change- take up too much headspace.
2) Determine how you will respond in advance to unpleasant inquiries at social gatherings. Ask for back-up if necessary! You know what I am talking about- it can be so awkward each year when Aunt Martha asks when you will find your soul mate and have a family. There may even be insinuations that being alone or single is your fault. Try to be proactive and determine how you will handle such situations. You can ask a friend or family member to run interference for you if you just don’t want to deal with these encounters.
3) Try not to shut down completely. Instead, set small goals for yourself that you think will be “good for you”- even “if you don’t feel like it.” If you weren’t so bummed out about being alone, how would you think, feel, and behave differently? What’s getting in the way of you living in this way? Can you reach out to a nearby friend or family and ask to join them during the holiday season? What about attending that work party just for dinner and then leave early? Maybe it would be all right to go watch a new movie- which you haven’t done in a very long while- even if it’s by yourself. And if you would prefer to be alone, it’s ok to tell someone that you appreciate their invite, but don’t feel like you would be good company, and that you would enjoy getting coffee with them next week (in this way you are authentically connecting vs. shutting down). You get the picture.
The point of these strategies is to prevent too much negative mood (ie “depressed” or grumpy), unhealthy coping behaviors that you later feel bad about, and avoid total disconnection from people. In doing so, you will be more ready to “rock” future opportunities for social connection and fulfillment.. you never know the good tomorrow can bring ! <3 be well.
All blog posts from Dr. Soo Hoo are provided for educational and informational purposes only. As Dr. Soo Hoo is a licensed clinical and health psychologist, we must make it clear that nothing on the blog is intended to constitute medical or psychological advice, consultation, recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are concerned about your health, please seek appropriate care in your area.