Help! I feel lonely this Christmas

If you're flying solo this Christmas, find family time a slog, or just miss those friends who really 'get you' then the festive season can be surprisingly lonely. Here's how to cope if your season isn't full of merriment.

There’s never a good time to feel lonely but Christmas is especially hard

AAhhhh Christmas… the most wonderful time of the year. Or so we’re told. But what happens if you’re spending Christmas alone this year? Or if the thought of spending Christmas with family is already turning your hands clammy? Loneliness at Christmas is a common problem among young people – here are some positive things to try if it’s affecting you.

Reasons why you might feel lonely at Christmas

There are plenty of reasons why people feel lonely over Christmas. No matter your reason, remind yourself, loneliness is not your fault. Reasons include:

  • Dealing with bereavement. If that person who used to make Christmas feel like Christmas is no longer here, that can make for a painful and lonely Christmas. Read our article on coping with bereavement at Christmas.
  • You’re feeling blue. If you’re already dealing with depression or anxiety, Christmas can intensify these feelings and lead to loneliness. It can seem like everyone is crazy happy apart from you. If this sounds familiar, read our article on looking after your mental health over the holidays.  
  • You don’t get on with your family. If home life is a slog and you don’t get on with your family, you might choose to spend Christmas away from your family.
  • You’ve moved away from home. Perhaps you’re studying abroad or you’ve moved to a new area far from home   

My mental health is making me feel lonely

When you’re struggling with your mental health, Christmas tends to intensify these feelings. The unhelpful thing is, at Christmas we’re bombarded by impossibly happy, friend riddled people in films, adverts and on social media. It makes us feel like we’re the only person not enjoying ourselves and as a result, we retreat, inevitably making ourselves feel even more lonely.  If your mental health is making you feel lonely, try the following:

  • Try saying yes to social events. If you’re feeling low or you don’t know many people, the thought of social events can be daunting but try not to avoid them entirely as this can lead to feeling even more isolated. Brave the Christmas party, try speaking to someone new and know it’s okay if you need to leave early.
  • Avoid spending too much time on social media. After all, social media can often be a made up world, where people pretend their lives are better than they are – especially at Christmas. Comparing lives never made anyone happy.
  • Try taking part in Christmas. A little Christmas crafting or cocktail making with friends or family might not lift your depression but it could help to make you feel less detached from festivities.
  • Distance yourself from friends who make you feel bad. Easier said than done we know, but remember, if you feel under-appreciated by your friends or you’re being bullied, this isn’t okay and you deserve to feel better – it’s time to drift apart.
  • Try talking to someone you trust about how you feel. Talking to a family member or a friend about how lonely you feel could feel like a massive weight off your shoulders.  

I’m literally facing Christmas alone

If you’re living away from home or you don’t get on with your family, you may be spending Christmas day alone. Waking up alone on Christmas day can feel a bit weird but it doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong, it’s just how things work out sometimes. If you’re flying solo this Christmas, you could try…

  • Lots of places throughout the UK (and the world) put on organised swims or runs on Christmas Day. If you’re a sporty sort, this could be a fun way to get out the house and meet other sport fanatics.
  • Apps like Meetup can be a fantastic way to meet people in your area. From walking groups to after work drinks and Christmas day lunches, there are lots of options to choose from.
  • Get out and about. This is the one day of the year when the streets will be empty, enjoy the quiet of the streets or head into nature for an uplifting walk.
  • Even if you’re not religious, it can be nice to attend a church service.
  • Try to see any time off work as an opportunity to nourish your mind and body – eating well, exercising and getting lots of sleep can all have a positive impact on your mental health.
  • Try something altogether different. Volunteering for a homeless shelter is an opportunity to meet lovely people and feel like you’re doing something really worthwhile.  
  • If you’re not spending Christmas with your family because you’re living away but you wish you were, make sure to have some home comforts with you and speak to your family over Skype.

Next Steps

  • Anyone can contact the Samaritans on their 24-hour helpline to talk things through. 116 123
  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Olivia Capadose

Updated on 10-Dec-2018