Take the Loneliness Out of the Holidays

Why it’s important to take things into your own hands during the holidays and pursue a value that’s important to you.



Everyone feels lonely at times, but loneliness can worsen on holidays, such as Christmas, when people enjoy celebrating in the company of others. Maybe you are single. Maybe you have no family or none close, or you are alienated from them. Maybe you have few or no friends or have recently lost a loved one. Maybe your spouse is overseas in the military. Perhaps you are ill and cannot get out of the house.

What can you do? Of course, with today's technology you can connect with friends and loved ones through a variety of options, such as phone, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Skype. You can think of acquaintances who might want to celebrate with you, even in some small way, but perhaps you have been afraid to call. Why let your initial fear stop you?

Now consider presents. In most cases Christmas giving is a trade: each party enjoys both giving and receiving. But what if, this Christmas, you have no one with whom to exchange gifts? Here is an idea: buy yourself a present or do something you selfishly want to do—just for yourself

There are many forms in which you can do this:

  • Buy something from a store—maybe a special item of clothing, a fragrant soap, or a new tie.
  • Get a special take-out dinner for yourself.
  • Rent or download a video of your favorite movie or one you have long wanted to see.
  • Buy or download a special book that you have wanted to read.
  • Exercise—take a walk in your favorite location or go to the gym.
  • Visit a museum you like.
  • Buy a pet cat or dog. They can be wonderful companions. If you are not sure if you want one, offer to temporarily take care of someone else’s pet and see if you enjoy it.
  • Volunteer doing something you enjoy—for yourself—as a way of meeting people.
  • Write a story—what would an ideal Christmas be like?
  • Play your favorite music.
  • Watch a TV show or special that makes you smile.

Avoid torturing yourself by sitting at home feeling powerless about your situation (or sorry for yourself). That only deepens feelings of loneliness or sadness. Instead, give yourself permission to nurture yourself and seek some personal holiday joy.

The key it to take charge of the situation. Get out if you can. Be active. Pursue a value—any value that’s important to you. Your values are what give meaning to your life.

Edwin Locke, PhD is a world-renowned psychologist. Ellen Kenner, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and host of the nationally-syndicated radio talk show, The Rational Basis of Happiness®