The unique circumstances presented by the holidays seem to increase the chances for people to feel lonely. But there is a lot that a person can do to constructively and proactively deal with loneliness over the holidays.
Make a plan to address the issue, rather than waiting for The Day to arrive and you’re feeling lonely and stuck. Decide to say “yes” to invitations to get together or be with people, if you know that it would be better for you to be around people than be by yourself.
Being with others doesn’t guarantee you won’t feel lonely, but only you know whether the experience of “feeling alone surrounded by people” is worse than feeling lonely by yourself.
Volunteering to be helpful is a major loneliness-buster.
If you have the time or energy, ask your friends, family, or co-workers if they need help getting anything done for the holidays. After they stop laughing hysterically, tell them you really mean it. And just like that, you’re going to be involved in something!
You can plan an after-work outing with a friend to grab dinner and help them finish errands or shopping. Or volunteer to babysit friends or family with children so they can get last-minute things done or attend holiday parties. (You will be a lifesaver and kids are great to spend time with at the holidays…their excitement is contagious.)
Volunteering to visit with someone in a nursing home or who is “shut in” at the holidays not only reduces your loneliness, but someone else’s as well. That’s a beautiful thing.
Perform (seemingly) random acts of holiday kindness.
Part of your plan to battle loneliness does not have to mean being around people and interacting with them for significant periods of time, if you don’t need or want that. Sometimes making a plan to stop by and just drop off something you have baked or made (for friends, neighbors, coworkers, family, nursing home/hospital/fire station staff) can make for a quick, impromptu, friendly interaction that feels meaningful and good.
You don’t have to tell anyone you’re going to be doing this, so no one is even going to be expecting you (and you won’t be disappointing them if you don’t do it, either). Being a holiday ninja is fun, exciting, and definitely takes your mind off of being lonely.