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Coping with Loneliness and Creating New Traditions This Holiday Season

, by Alvina Acquaye, NCI-CONNECT Health and Wellness Counselor

Girl with mask holding wrapped present
Credit: iStock

The holidays are a time to reflect and connect with your loved ones. It is also a time for new beginnings as the New Year approaches. This year, holiday plans and traditions will look completely different. You and your loved ones will seek out new ways to connect while social distancing to keep everyone safe and healthy.

With the endless changes happening, you may also be feeling frustrated or lonely. Acknowledge these feelings and find healthy ways to adjust to this new normal.

The following tips can help you cope with loneliness:

  • Identify patterns that lead to negative thoughts and feelings. Be mindful of how your thoughts may affect your emotions when you are lonely. Create a plan to address these moments so you can cope in an effective way. Determine what your triggers are. If something like social media can shift how you feel, or watching certain shows can cause you to isolate, then reduce the amount of time you do these things.
  • Occupy your time with things that bring you joy. Participate in an activity or hobby that helps keep you occupied in a positive way.
  • Create a mantra. This provides you with reassurance that you will get through this, just like you have been able to get through other challenging moments. For example, “I will take care of me,” “I will be kind to myself,” “I need to take a step back,” or “I am right where I am meant to be.”
  • Express how you are feeling. Share your true feelings with family and friends you trust. This allows you to release uncomfortable emotions. Limit your venting to 15 minutes then shift to topics that are more positive.
  • Get an indoor plant or create a garden. Having something to care for can help with your well-being and mood. Greenery can also help you feel more at ease with your surroundings.
  • Treat yourself. Block out time to create a relaxing moment to take care of a need you may be neglecting. For example, sit and eat your favorite food, get food delivered, or watch a movie that you have not watched in a long time.
  • Initiate a routine. Create a schedule for your day and stick to it. Being able to do familiar tasks can help with how you adjust to changing emotions.

Now that you have learned ways to cope with negative feelings, make plans for new holiday traditions this year. Although your celebrations may look different, focus on what you can do instead of what is not available to you.

  • Identify traditions that can be recreated virtually or plan new ways to enjoy your family and friends. Some ideas include:
    • Create a virtual event with a theme and have everyone dress up for the festivities
    • Plan a virtual cooking demonstration or physical activity competition
    • Plan a watch party where you can stream movies together and share comments
  • Think about giving gifts tailored to your loved ones’ needs and services that are available from home. This can include a membership to an online class, a delivery service, or a virtual membership or hobby that fits their interests.
  • Connect with your loved ones through mail. In addition to virtual options like emails or texts, surprise your loved ones by writing letters and mailing gifts to your family, co-workers, and friends.

This year, you can still make the holiday season a time to remember. A little planning and creativity is all you need to be able to enjoy this time together and make memories that will last forever.

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