Tis the season to be…lonely? If you find yourself feeling more melancholy than merry during the holiday season, you’re not alone. A lot of people struggle with holiday loneliness. It can be especially tough for those of us who are introverted.
All the pressure to be jolly and social makes introverts feel guilty for not measuring up. If you feel emotional distance from the people you’re spending time with, you’ll feel just as lonely in a crowded room as an empty house.
You may wish to spend the holidays with close friends and family, but circumstances just don’t allow it. Without the comfort of meaningful connections, socializing feels like a chore.
And, of course, let’s not forget how much introverts dread holiday parties. Even if you like parties, you may find it hard to keep up with all the mixing and mingling that happens between November and December. You’d rather risk being lonely at home than face the endless festivities.
As an introvert myself, I understand your pain. The holidays used to bring up all sorts of conflicting feelings for me. I’d either overextend myself by planning and attending lots of holiday gathering that left me feeling burnt out and lonely. Or I’d give into hopelessness and have a pity party for one. It seemed that I couldn’t win.
Ironically, the pandemic helped me to overcome holiday loneliness. It changed my habits and mindsets so that I could actually enjoy the holidays—even if I was by myself.
In case you’re struggling with loneliness this holiday season, here are some tips to cope.
6 ways to cope with holiday loneliness
Know that you’re not alone
One of the things that made lockdown holidays easier was the knowledge that many other people were in the same boat. As the old saying goes, misery loves company—and so does loneliness, apparently!
The irony is that knowing that others were alone made me feel less lonely. There was no pressure to be social and cheerful. I could just be. That’s quite a relief for a highly sensitive introvert like me.
If you find yourself feeling bad about your aloneness this holiday season, remember that there are countless others in the same situation. There’s no need to be ashamed of something that is actually quite common and normal.
Play the reframe game
Mental reframing is a highly useful practice that I often use with my introverted confidence coaching clients. It involves learning to choose more helpful thoughts over unhelpful ones. This shift in perspective leads to less loneliness.
For example, if you’re spending the holidays alone, a useful thought might be “spending Christmas alone is pathetic and boring.”
A more helpful thought would be, “spending Christmas alone is an opportunity to indulge in my favorite solo activities.”
For example, when I couldn’t see my family or friends during Christmas 2021, I decided to view it as an opportunity to enjoy my favourite solo holiday activities.
I put up simple decorations, bought my favourite snacks, cooked a delicious meal and watched movies. It ended up being a wonderful day!
Let go of expectations
The holidays are a time of unreasonable expectations. We expect our family to magically morph into the Brady Bunch overnight. Instead, they remain the embarrassing band of weirdos that drive us nuts. Every. Single. Year.
We also expect a lot of ourselves. We push ourselves to be more social, jovial and benevolent than we would be any other time of the year. And yet, we chastise ourselves when we don’t meet our own sky high expectations.
When we compare ourselves to others it only makes the holiday loneliness worse. We see perfect families and couples on social media and quickly come down with a case of “compare and despair”.
Give yourself a break by avoiding comparing your life to the (extremely edited and curated) life of your social media friends. And while you’re at it, ditch the idea that your life should in any way resemble a holiday romcom. Life is not a Hallmark movie.
Bring joy to others
The fastest way to forget your loneliness is to bring joy to others. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend the holidays volunteering at a soup kitchen or building a school in Africa.
You can bring joy to others in small, simple ways. Offer a compliment, words of appreciation, or a listening ear. You could also check in on someone who might be feeling lonely too. Send them a kind note to let them know you’re thinking of them.
When in doubt, you can always send a card or cute video to your grandparents. They’ll certainly appreciate it!
Creativity is a wonderful way to transform loneliness into rapturous solitude. It wraps you in the warmth of your own intuition and connects you to the universe.
It also focuses your mind. Instead of letting negative thoughts take over, you bring your attention to the task at hand. Whether you write, paint, dance, take photographs or sew dresses—partaking in a creative craft is a great way to overcome loneliness.
Be kind to yourself
Introverts tend to be hard on ourselves. We need to be reminded to be kind to ourselves. If you can relate, you may not even know how to be nice to yourself—especially around the holidays when it’s easy to push yourself too hard.
Kindness begins with your thoughts. Choose more positive self-talk: “you’re doing your best”, “look how much you’ve accomplished”, “It’s ok to rest”.
Of course, actions often speak louder than words. So, start doing nice things for yourself:
- take a break
- have a bath
- make a special meal
- light the candle you’ve been saving
- use the good china
- watch something funny
- get a massage
- go for a walk
And if you’re looking for more ways to stave off loneliness, be sure to grab my free Introvert Connection Guide. You’ll discover 7 steps to make meaningful friendships—no extroversion needed.
No matter how you spend the holidays, I hope you make time to be kind and compassionate toward yourself. You deserve it!