Many people don’t feel like celebrating over the Festive Season, particularly if they’re spending it alone. In 2018 Red Cross conducted a survey that found approximately one in three people in Australia experienced loneliness at Christmas.
The festive period is typically when families and friends get together. Often people who experience loneliness have strong memories of happier, more connected times. The mark of true wellbeing is when we have a sense of belonging.
Generally, there are three ways to deal with being alone at Christmas. Firstly, you can feel sorry for yourself and add to your loneliness. Secondly, you can find things to do at Christmas that make you feel less alone. Thirdly, you can plan ahead so that you are not alone over the festive season unless you want to be.
Christmas is the time to appreciate what you have in life, a place to live, or food on the table. Having gratitude will help you focus on the good things in life. You can practice gratitude by writing down three things that you’re grateful for on this day.
For those of us who are alone at this time of year, it’s important to put things in place to help manage the negative health impacts of loneliness at Christmas. Here are some ideas that can make Christmas a season of good cheer and be an empowering, joyful solo experience;
Volunteer for something. Giving something back to your community brings a sense of pride and belonging and highlights the needs of those around you. Organisations such as the Red Cross or Salvation Army, as well as local churches and community groups, welcome volunteers at this busy time to help bring comfort and joy to others over the festive season.
Join in with festive community events. You could help with your local council’s Christmas activities, make mince pies for the school fundraiser or show off your craft skills at a local Christmas gift market – there are lots of events to take part in leading up to Christmas. It’s also a great way to meet new people or make a friend with a common interest, hobby or passion.
Connect via an online social network. We often talk about the negative impacts of social media but there are many benefits that can be found. If you’re at home alone, logging in to a social network can be a great way of connecting with people without having to leave the comfort of your armchair.
You can set up a group video chat with friends and family living overseas or interstate and enjoy a ‘virtual Christmas Day’ together. Another idea is to simply pick up the phone and let someone know you’re thinking about them; you’ll soon feel far less alone.
When you connect with like-minded people this way, you’ll find it’s not just for Christmas; you may start a lifelong friendship.
Organisations such as Meetup or Stitch offer a diverse range of activities and groups that get together at Christmas and throughout the year. There are book clubs, health and wellness, music, and eating out to mention just a few.
Reach out to a neighbour or friend. You will probably find others that are alone at Christmas and they may also be experiencing feelings of isolation like yourself.
Invite a solo neighbour for Christmas brunch, lunch or afternoon tea, or leave a little gift with a card on their doorstep to let them know you’re thinking of them. Or maybe organise an ‘Orphans’ Christmas’, and invite people you know or create an event on Meetup or Stitch inviting people locally, in a similar situation, to share the day with you.
Give yourself some special treats. As Christmas is a time for treats, there’s no better excuse for doing things that will bring you joy. Make your favourite foods, binge on your favourite TV series, go to a movie, create your own home health retreat or have a special book you’ve been waiting to read saved for the day.
Have a swim at the beach or take a walk and indulge in the peace of reconnecting with nature. The best part of being on your own is that you can do whatever you want that makes you feel good, whenever you want.
If you can’t pull yourself out of it and are having difficulty coping with feeling alone on Christmas, reach out for help. Don’t try to do it alone. Tell someone how you are feeling. Call a friend, a family member, or a helpline. There are people out there who can support you.
Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
Lifeline 24hr counselling —13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service –1300 659 467
Social Groups – Online or in person