For our Podcast with Surviving the Holidays, we had 2 episodes that focused on fighting loneliness.
Listen to both episodes here:
Here are the transcripts:
If you’re one of those people who has a big family and doesn’t know the meaning of being alone on a holiday, then that’s awesome! Not everyone is so lucky.
The holidays can be extremely stressful because of all of the social obligations, but it can be equally lonely for so many others.
Some people are only children who’s parents have passed. Some people have either been ostracized from their family, or they have learned that their family is toxic and they can’t be around them. People have gone through divorces and job changes. Some people are just far away from family and can’t get back. Some older people are in homes and their adult children just can’t make it out to see them. There are also people who just struggle with feeling lonely.
The point is, you likely know someone who will be alone this holiday season, or feel lonely.
What can you do to help them?
Invite them to join your family! I know a lot of families who keep it to only family for family functions, which is fine if that’s what you choose. But I’m sure there’s some part of a family function that you can invite someone who might be alone.
Even if you can’t invite them for the actual holiday, invite them out for lunch or over for dinner on another night. Hopefully, if you invite them over for Christmas dinner and they say they’re already going over to someone’s for that, so invite them over the night before or another night that works for you.
Host a game night! Invite people over just to play some games, even if you’re only inviting one person over. That way, you just have fun with someone and you don’t have to cook!
Ask them to help with all of the gift wrapping that you need to do. Or invite them to go shopping with you. Involving someone in some way, though it might seem small to you, can make a world of difference for that person.
If it’s someone in an assisted living situation, go and visit them! Bring some treat, and it doesn’t have to be homemade, just buy it at the store! Have them teach you how to play a game, or just sit and talk with them. Older people generally just want to share their life experience with someone, so be that someone.
Just be a friend to those you meet. Share a cheerful smile to those around you, unless you really don’t want to smile—I’m not going to make you. But sharing something as simple as a smile can lift others’ spirits and help them feel like they are seen in this crazy world.
Go to the dollar store and grab a bunch of little things to give out to your coworkers. Send out cards to people who live far away. Just reach out to the people you care about and make sure that they are also enjoying this season.
I know I’m saying to go and do all of these extra things, but also pay attention to yourself. If it feels good and right for you to do these things, then do them. Now, I’m not saying that you need to spread yourself too thin and give too much. I’m just wanting you to think about what you can do for others.
Now what if you’re the person who feels lonely during the holidays?
Yesterday’s tip was about what you can to do involve someone, but what about those of you who feel lonely?
Reach out! Ask for help! Ask for connection! Invite yourself over places.
I know a lot of people don’t like asking for help and maybe find it embarrassing or humiliating to be vulnerable with how they might feel lonely, but you know what? The people around you might not even know that you are feeling this way. No one ever really knows what’s going on in someone else’s mind, so those around you might think that you are pleased with how everything is.
Now, I’m not saying that if you are petrified of reaching out and inviting yourself over somewhere, that you have to give yourself a panic attack—please don’t do that! I just want to encourage you to think about what you can do to make sure YOU aren’t lonely. You don’t have control over everyone else, you only have control over you.
If you don’t know where to start, there are so many opportunities to meet new people and make new friends. I’m not talking Tinder, here.
I have used Meetup, which is a great place to find small groups of people with similar interests. I’ve seen Meetups for Scrabble players or Business owners. There are Meetups for running groups and cycling groups. People who want to get together to discuss a certain topic host Meetups. And no, I’m not being sponsored by Meetup, although maybe I should reach out to them. It’s just a great resource to create your community, and you usually learn something new.
Bumble is that dating app where the woman has to initiate conversation. But did you know that Bumble has Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz? Bumble BFF is for you to meet your new best friend. Bumble Bizz is where you can make new business connections.
I think we can all agree a good friend is someone who lifts us up, not puts us down. There are so many opportunities for you to safely step out of your comfort zone and meet someone new that you’ve prescreened through talking and texting through a message app. That way you get to know if the person is going to uplift you or bring you down.
With all of the technology around us, the craziest phenomenon is the fact that we are more interconnected with everyone else, yet so disconnected with those personal connections. We communicate through a screen, not in person. So why not use that technology to connect you with your new best friend?
Please don’t think that I’m placing blame on you if you’re feeling lonely—that it’s your fault, so you “deserve” to feel that way. Just know that if you are lonely, YOU need to do something about it. If you’re just waiting around for everyone else to make your life great, it’s not going to happen. Not because people don’t care about you, but because everyone else is just doing what they can to try and make their own lives great as well.
Take charge, reach out, and fight loneliness, one invite at a time.