For many, the holidays are filled with friends, family and constant celebration. People put socialization on overdrive and seem to take no breaks. However, for others, the holidays can feel lonelier than any other time of year.
Not everyone has close friends and family to spend their time with during these cold few months. Some may have it reserved for extra alone time, and not by their own choice. Taking more time for yourself during the holidays is not unhealthy on its own, but doing so too much can lead to negative emotions and feelings of isolation.
There is a difference in taking some alone time to avoid being around others. “Taking some time alone is kind of like taking a break at halftime of a football game,” says Megan Williams, Director of Suicide Prevention for Centerstone. “You’ve been chatting with people, trying to keep the conversation going for a couple of hours, and you need to take a 15-minute break to step away and recharge your batteries.”
Alone time can be healthy as it provides time to focus on yourself and what makes you happy. There are several ways you can celebrate on your own:
While having meaningful alone time is good for the soul, it is important to know your limits and when you need to recharge socially. All people, whether introverted or extroverted, need some level of socialization to be healthy.
Being alone can become unhealthy when alone time turns into avoidance or prolonged isolation. Feelings of anxiety and loneliness can cause us to avoid social interaction altogether as a coping mechanism. This isolation can lead to depressive symptoms, which end up further increasing feelings of loneliness – it’s a cycle.
One of the best ways to cope with holiday loneliness is seeking out time with people. “If being around others could alleviate any loneliness you feel, seek social interactions out,” says Megan Williams. “You can always take a break or limit those interactions as you see fit to ensure good self-care.”
If you don’t have loved ones nearby, this may take more initiative on your part.
If you’re feeling sad and lonely, try to not exacerbate these feelings by comparing your plans to others’. Stay off social media – it’s only a “highlight reel” of someone’s life and can make you feel small in comparison. Practice healthy coping strategies, and remind yourself what is best for you, even if that’s spending some extra time on self-care.
If the holidays have you experiencing increased mental health challenges, Centerstone is here to help. You can call us at 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123) to get connected with care.
If you are in crisis, please call our crisis line, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
If you're still having trouble and would like to reach out to someone about counseling or other Centerstone services, contact us.
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