It seems counterintuitive that a city as massive as Toronto could ever feel lonely, but it definitely can — especially around the holidays when it seem like everyone else’s social calendar fills to the brim with friendly gatherings and family functions.
Social media can often compound these feelings with 24/7 timelines of winter vacations, kids opening presents and happy couples in their Pinterest-worthy pajamas.
If you find yourself far from loved ones, dealing with a break-up or simply struggling with loneliness during these winter months, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. In fact, the phenomenon of seasonal sadness has become so prevalent that it’s spawned a new term: the holiday blues.
Understanding that feelings of isolation are common during these end-of-year months, here are some strategies that may help you cope:
1. Get Busy: The holidays arrive at the same time each year so you have plenty of time
to formulate a game-plan that will make you feel more plugged-in and less on your
own. For example:
2. Focus on the Positive: Rather than dwell on what’s missing right now, try and focus
on the many positives in your life and the world around you. You can jot entries in a
diary or simply say them out loud; either way, you will gradually notice how much
there is to be thankful for.
3. Embrace Solitude: Sure, the holidays may scream ‘togetherness’ but on the flip-side,
everything non-holiday generally slows down and provides an opportunity for some
rare ‘me time.’ Maybe you’ve shelved an old hobby or have neglected treating
yourself to a day at the spa. Guess what? Now’s the ideal time to buck the crowds
and focus on you!
4. Be Kind to Yourself: Even with the above strategies, being alone on the holidays can
be tough. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings as valid and normal and
recognize that this too shall pass.
The holidays are a unique and often challenging time to be on your own. If you’re feeling isolated or disconnected during this time of year, consider the above suggestions and reach out to a therapy professional if you need additional strategies or support.
Wishing you a peaceful and fulfilling holiday season.
With its emphasis on family and tradition, the holiday season can be particularly challenging for those who are grieving and the pressure to be merry can only make things worse as festivities and social gatherings flood the calendar from November through New Years.
As a therapist, the one rule I’ve learned about grief is that it doesn’t conform to any rules. It’s confusing, random and untidy. It can be understated and subtle or jarring and brash. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual or an ‘off’ switch. There is no right way or time or place to mourn a loss.
Understanding its complexities, the challenge with grief is finding effective ways to cope with it — particularly during this time of year when the calendar makes life tougher than normal.
Below are some strategies you may find helpful if you are struggling to navigate the holidays without a loved one:
Wishing you peace and comfort this holiday season.
It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year but for many, the holiday season is anything but joyful.
And it’s not hard to see why.
From the monetary pressures of gift-buying and travel to the unwelcome scrooge of family drama, this time of year can feel less like a celebration and more like a test of survival.
If you’re one of the many whose mood isn’t quite merry around the holidays, you’re not alone. A 2015 U.S. study showed 62% of respondents reported feeling at least some degree of seasonal stress with nearly half of people surveyed citing “finances” as the main source of their anxiety.
Knowing these less-than-cheerful feelings are perfectly common, the question is how to cope with them. Here are just some of my go-to tips for managing holiday stress:
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: This may sound simple but recognizing your feelings as valid and legitimate is proactive to making it through the holidays with a healthy attitude. Hold yourself with compassion in the face of difficult emotions and remember that it’s okay to feel exactly as you’re feeling right now.
2. Set Boundaries: This can apply to everything from finances to family and will help you approach the holidays in a way that’s comfortable for you. Some examples include:
3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate: Taking on all the shopping, decorating, cooking and hosting is a recipe for stress. Offload some responsibility, ask for help and try not to worry if things aren’t done perfectly. Remember, it’s your holiday too!
4. Get Grounded: It’s easy to get caught-up in the holiday madness. Reconnect to what matters by participating in activities that feel grounding, healthy and/or personally rewarding, for example: exercising, reading, volunteering or simply spending time with close friends. Let serenity be the gift you give yourself this year.
The festive season can be a time of extreme highs and lows. If you’re someone who feels particularly anxious at this time of year, consider the above strategies to help ease your stress and reach out to a professional if you need additional support.
Wishing you peace and fulfillment this holiday season.
Lindsay Ross, MSW RSW, is a clinical social worker in private practice in Toronto, Ontario.