Typically, the holidays are a time to spend with the people you care about, to be thankful for one another and to create happy memories. It’s these very expectations that can cause people to feel disappointment if they aren’t met. It’s time we acknowledge the feelings of loneliness that some of us may feel around the holidays.
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Loneliness comes from unmet expectations and parallels feeling abandoned and disconnected. Being alone is enjoying some time with yourself, being mentally free. What does loneliness look like? It can look like sadness, self-loathing and a lack of motivation. Think of those people who have recently suffered a loss, whether it be the loss of a loved one, a home or a job. What about the elderly who may have a diminished support system? Even parents who have recently become empty-nesters may experience feelings of loneliness around the holidays.
Here are some ways to support ourselves or others who may feel more secluded around this time of the year.
▪ Engage in the community.
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▪ Try volunteering for a local organization to give back to the community.
▪ Recognize your feelings and share them with people you trust — they’ll want to help.
▪ Try to avoid social media. It will only cause you to compare yourself to others.
▪ Engage in physical activity and things you enjoy doing.
▪ Take a hot bath or drink a hot beverage.
▪ Avoid having high expectations of others. Instead, accept things as they come to avoid disappointment.
▪ Seek support through therapy if your feelings of loneliness are profound.
Check out these local community events and volunteer opportunities:
▪ Toys for Tots: donate or apply to volunteer at lemont-pa.toysfortots.org.
▪ Red Cross: Call 237-3162 if you are interested in becoming a regular volunteer.
▪ Salvation Army: Bell Ringers for Kettle Campaign can register to volunteer at centrecountybellringing.org.
▪ State College Area Food Bank: Volunteers needed for holidays to pack bags, stock shelves and general office work. Call 234-2310
▪ Visit calendar.centredaily.com to view the holiday events for our area.
Nicki Tice is a MSW intern at the State College Area School District.