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Dealing with Holiday Loneliness

While the holiday season is touted as the most wonderful time of the year, the truth is that it can arrive with mixed emotions. If family lives far away, if we’ve lost a loved one, or if life has changed in some significant way, it’s normal that the tidings of comfort and joy can feel few and far between.

Even if all is merry in your world, the holidays can still be a stressful time. Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving or traveling far away to see loved ones over Christmas break, there is a lot of preparation, planning and expense to celebrating, which can be pretty exhausting. So, if this time of year is making you feel a little less than jolly, here are some suggestions that can help bring back that holiday cheer:

Take time for yourself.

As you’re giving, giving, giving this holiday season, why not extend that charitable spirit to yourself? Even if you’re feeling lonely, treating yourself kindly is a wonderful way to make you feel better, no matter what season it is. Curl up by the fire with a good book, take a cooking class you’ve always been interested in, go to the spa for a pampering day or simply do whatever you love to do.

Realize you’re not alone.

It may sound a little bit like “misery loves company,” but the fact of the matter is that knowing you’re not the only person who feels lonely this time of year can be a comfort. There are many people who wish to be with family who are unable to do so, while others may wish they didn’t have to be with their family! Even for those who have seemingly good relationships, the holidays can bring up regrets and sorrows. So understand that it’s okay to feel lonely. You may want to seek out others who feel the same way (either through in-person or online support groups), so you can talk through your feelings and find a sense of community.

Shift your expectations.

Everyone is under high pressure to have the “perfect” holiday season, whether or not we realize it. One of the ways to help alleviate the “this is what I should be doing” feeling is by realizing that you don’t have to be going out to parties every night, or hanging ornaments on a 10-foot Christmas tree or spending the actual holiday with family. Instead of focusing on what you “should be” doing, shift your focus instead to everything wonderful you do have in your life…and what you actually want to be doing. It’s fine to take a friend to a holiday party instead of a romantic date. And it’s okay to not have the “perfect” relationship with your children or grandchildren. Realizing that real life is less than perfect has helped many people get through holiday loneliness.

Find ways to get connected.

Thanks to technology, friends and family are only a click or a call away. It’s a lot harder to feel lonely when you’re reaching out to those you care about. Whether you’re simply saying hello to friends and neighbors, chatting with the people in your bingo group or Skyping your niece across the country, making the effort to reach out will help you feel more connected instantly. Instead of “liking” someone’s status on social media, consider sending them a note or calling them to catch up. You may find the person on the other end of the screen is longing for true connection just as much as you are.

Cultivate gratitude.

Think about all the things in your life that you’re grateful for. Perhaps you have a pet you adore. Or a volunteer group that brings meaning and happiness to your life. Or even the simple fact of being healthy and active. Writing what you’re grateful for down in a journal is a wonderful way of expressing all the good in your life, and is a tangible reminder you can look back on when you’re feeling low.

Give to others.

There’s a reason so many people choose to donate their time during the holidays: it makes us feel good while we’re doing good for others. Helping people who are less fortunate can help us be thankful for what we do have and make us a part of something larger than ourselves.

Make a move.

Consider starting a new holiday tradition by moving to a senior living community like Melrose Meadows. By moving before winter sets in, you’ll have the chance to start your holiday season off in a brand new location. Instead of dwelling on what you don’t have or the things that have changed, you’ll have the opportunity to look forward to everything this new stage of life has to offer. At Melrose, we love the holiday season, and so we have lots of events, parties and other opportunities to celebrate with others. We’d love to have you become a part of our “family” and make this holiday season the happiest yet.

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