If you're feeling lonely this Christmas, you're not alone. Studies show that nearly a million of us feel isolated over the festive season. Here are five ways to ease feelings of loneliness during the holidays.
1. Connect with your community
The website Community Christmas specialises in bringing together community projects aimed at those feeling lonely over Christmas. Simply enter your postcode and it will bring up a list and handy map of all the events happening near you on Christmas Day.
From charities to churches, pubs to parties, community centres to coffee shops, there are plenty of places opening their doors to those feeling isolated. And if there isn’t anything you fancy in your area, why not set up your own Christmas event and list it on the website? Who knows what new friends you could meet.
2. Reddit Secret Santa
For those not expecting to give or receive a gift this year, the discussion website Reddit hosts an annual worldwide Secret Santa exchange, where users can sign up to be matched with another gifter from either their home country or the rest of the world.
Giftees really take the time to consider their match’s interests and the dedicated message board is full of heartwarming posts from grateful participants. There are even some celebrity Santas with stars from Bill Gates to Snoop Dogg having taken part in previous years.
And if you love to give, Reddit host gift exchanges all year round, so there’s no need to wait until next Christmas for your opportunity to take part. They conduct themed exchanges such as Harry Potter, Coffee, original Homeware, Pets and countless more.
3. Find a furry friend
If you’re an animal person, you’ll know that time spent with a pet can be seriously good for the soul. Borrow My Doggy is a website that connects dog owners with local people who are available to play with their pooch when they aren’t around.
With many people travelling to see family, or even going abroad over the festive season, there’s no better time to put yourself forward to take on a pet for a day or two.
Having a canine companion for the holidays will mean having something to take care of and give you several opportunities for festive walks—a great way to bond with other dog owners who are stretching their legs after third helpings of Christmas pud.
Volunteering to help others in need over the Christmas season can be a great way to alleviate feelings of loneliness—and it’ll bring you good new year karma to boot.
Offering your time to an organisation such as Crisis, the UK’s biggest homelessness charity, could see you spending your days in a number of ways, from working in the kitchens, to driving to pick up those in need, bringing your own professional skills to the table by way of creative workshops or simply offering a kind ear to those with a story to tell.
You’re guaranteed to spend your Christmas Day around others, and you could even make some news friends. Plus, you’ll go to sleep that night happy in the knowledge that you’ve made the world a slightly better place.
5. Talk to someone
If loneliness is making you depressed this holiday season, it’s important to reach out. If you don’t have close loved ones you can open up to, then get in touch with a charity such as Samaritans and tell somebody how you feel. It’s amazing how much difference getting feelings of depression off your chest can make.
Samaritan volunteers are available to talk 24/7—even on Christmas Day—so there’s never a bad time to pick up the phone. One in three of the calls they receive on Christmas Day are from people feeling lonely or isolated, so take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone in feeling alone.