The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family while creating lasting memories, for children and aging parents alike. There are always the usual stresses that arise this time of year, like making sure gifts are bought, meals are sorted, and activities are planned to keep everyone happy. However, […]
Social isolation is a health concern that can increase the risk of premature death by 14 percent. This is because people who feel lonely have a poor immune response and more bodily inflammation than those who are sociable. A study conducted by Harvard Medical School showed how loneliness could increase the risk of early death by as much as 24 percent. Other health issues like depression can stem from loneliness and lead to a decline in heart health.
The holidays are traditionally a time to get together with family, friends and to meet new people. For those more inclined to isolate themselves it is important to recognize this and make an effort to seek out company. Here are some tips for defeating loneliness this holiday season:
Do things together
Spending the holidays with family will help satisfy the hunger for togetherness and combat loneliness. Make memories and cherish old ones by creating new traditions and embracing the changes that come with the new generations.
- Take pictures, and hang them up. Looking at pictures makes you remember positive times as a family and helps you to feel less alone.
- Do holiday crafts with friends and family. It’s especially great when little ones give you their art to take home! (Decorate; a wreath, gingerbread house, or help with the tree).
- Most holiday plays offer discount tickets for senior citizens, ask a friend and enjoy a night out.
- Bake a favorite family recipe together. Cooking and baking helps ease depression and anxiety while acting as a meditative and therapeutic process.
Do things for others
Studies show that doing even the smallest things for others on a consistent basis makes you a happier individual with a higher self-esteem as well as a stronger sense of purpose. Giving back increases our happiness and releases endorphins, giving you an enlightened sense of self and positivity.
- Volunteer with a local charity. Loneliness thrives in environments where you tend to be isolated. Meet new people and get involved with your community by lending a helping hand.
- Make gifts and pass them out to friends and neighbors, it’s a great way to strike up conversation.
- Collect donations. Help spearhead a canned food or clothing drive with your local community
Do things for yourself
Focusing on your needs will help you feel more secure and at peace. Practicing good self-care also makes you feel productive and content.
Do things you enjoy doing alone, like reading, walking and gardening. Allowing time for yourself and making it a priority will help eliminate or reduce feelings of loneliness.
- Regulating your sleep schedule helps your brain recharge. Being sleep deprived makes you more susceptible to stress and anxiety.
- Getting physical activity releases endorphins and serotonin, which help you from feeling depressed or having sad thoughts. Take it outside and get some vitamin D to keep from being thrown into a depressive state.
- Push yourself to go out and socialize. Having social support is critical to combating loneliness.
- Joining a local Meetup group. This allows you to meet others that enjoy the same activities and interests as you.
The holidays don’t need to come upon you in the form of loneliness, they can be embraced with togetherness, happiness and positivity. Gathering with others is important. Nobody should ever feel isolated or alone, especially during “the most wonderful time of the year.”