While the holiday season can be filled with so much joy, for others it can be a really difficult time of year. Whether you're far from your family and feeling homesick or struggling with seasonal affective disorder, November and December are not festive for everyone. So, what can you do if you're feeling lonely?
Know the Difference Between Loneliness and Seasonal Affective Disorder
First, it's important to distinguish if you're feeling lonely or experiencing seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder, also called SAD, is a type of depression that occurs with seasons. For most, the symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months. Symptoms of SAD include fatigue, irritability, withdrawing from others, and looming feelings of sadness. The onset of SAD is usually marked by the change of weather when it gets colder and becomes darker earlier. If you're experiencing symptoms of SAD, you could benefit from light therapy or medications. It's important to talk to your doctor first before starting anything.
Combat Feelings of Isolation this Holiday Season
If you're feeling lonely as the holiday season approaches, there are things you can do to help make the holidays a little easier.
#1: Reach out to friends or family.
Being far from loved ones can only exasperate feelings of loneliness and homesickness. While Facetime isn't the same as seeing them in person, it can help. Try setting up a daily or weekly Facetime or Zoom call with loved ones to help feel closer to them.
#2: Do something that'll make you happy.
What holiday activity did you most look forward to as a child? Whether it was baking cookies or watching holiday movies, incorporate that activity into your routine to give you something to look forward to.
#3: Take a trip.
If the holidays are just hard for you and you'd rather not celebrate them, that's okay! There are plenty of places around the world that you can escape to.
#4: Adopt a pet!
If you're feeling lonely and longing for a companion, a pet could be just what you need. Head over to your local shelter to find the right furry friend for you.
#5: Start a new hobby.
If distraction is what you need, there's nothing like throwing yourself into a new hobby. Some ideas include volunteering, cooking, and learning an instrument or language.
If your feelings of loneliness feel like more than holiday homesickness, then it's important to talk to your doctor. Your symptoms could be a sign of depression. Your doctor can help you find the root of what's going on and create a plan moving forward to ease the symptoms.