Get started
What we treat
Why online therapy
How it works
How it works
Meet the therapists
Wellbeing blog
Log in

Do you feel lonely at Christmas? How to ease those feelings

December 4, 2023

There’s a lot of pressure on Christmas to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, but this isn’t the case for everyone. Feelings of loneliness don’t just disappear during the holidays, in fact, they can actually become more intense. When we see others having fun with family and friends, we might compare this to our own situation, which can make us feel isolated.

According to Age UK, 1.5 million older people feel more lonely at Christmas than at any other time of year. And, it’s not just older people. Young adults and students who live at university over the festive season may also experience loneliness during the holidays. Despite this, 36% of people are too embarrassed to admit that they’re lonely at Christmas.

Feeling lonely isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s actually normal to feel lonely from time to time; 45% of adults feel lonely occasionally or often in England. Loneliness can affect anyone, it’s not only experienced by people who don’t have family, or who live on their own. Loneliness stems from a lack of connection and missing meaningful relationships in your life.

While loneliness isn’t a mental health disorder in itself, it can contribute to mental health issues such as depression. Even those who are naturally introverted need social interaction, and a lack of this can impact our mood, wellbeing, self-esteem and motivation. So, it’s important that we deal with feelings of loneliness to stop them from getting out of hand.

Here are some tips for how to cope if you’re feeling lonely at Christmas, or at any other time:

  1. Keep busy
    If you’re having a quiet Christmas and not seeing many people, it’s important to keep yourself busy by doing things that you enjoy. You could watch a box set, start a new book, a jigsaw puzzle, try cooking, baking or journalling. Fun and fulfilling activities like this can give you more energy and make you feel positive.
  2. Focus on meaningful connections
    The quality of our relationships is important. We may have lots of people in our lives, but if we don’t feel personally connected to them, we can still feel lonely. Over the holidays, try to organise plans with people who you feel close to, even if it’s a video call or a phone call. You could also work on strengthening a current relationship with a family member or friend by arranging to meet up and making it a regular thing.
  3. Use social media mindfully
    At Christmas, people tend to post on social media about their plans with family and friends. If you’re feeling lonely, posts like this can be difficult to see, as you may find yourself comparing your situation with others.

    Notice how using social media makes you feel. Afterwards, do you have negative thoughts, or find yourself feeling sad and isolated? If so, it might be a good idea to limit your time on social media. Try removing the apps from the home screen on your devices or putting them all in one folder so that you’re less tempted.

    Lastly, it’s important to remember that people aren’t always up-front about how they’re really feeling on social media. Social media is often a highlight reel, showing the ‘best bits’ of a person’s life without the more difficult parts.
  4. Be kind to yourself
    We should always treat ourselves with kindness, but when you’re going through a tough time, it’s especially important. Speak to yourself like you’d speak to a friend, reminding yourself that it’s okay to feel lonely and there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and congratulate yourself on getting through the difficult days. Read more about being a better friend to yourself here.
  5. Join in with your local community
    Find out if any local organisations are holding community events that you can get involved with. Charities and churches are often looking for volunteers over the festive period to serve food to the homeless or spend time with elderly people. Helping others can give you a sense of purpose, bring structure to your day and boost your morale. Plus, you might meet like-minded people who you connect with.
  6. Look into peer support
    There are different services which are purposely set up to support people experiencing loneliness, both nationwide and locally. While these groups may not fulfil your social needs entirely, they’re a good way to get the ball rolling with meeting new people and making connections. Here are a few that you could look into:
  • Age UK offers a befriender service for older people.
  • Befriending Networks has an online directory of UK befriending services.
  • MeetUp helps people find face-to-face groups of people with shared interests.
  • Reenage sets up social activities for people over the age of 75 without social support.

At ieso, we offer online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for a range of mental health conditions. CBT can help you manage your problems by changing the way that you think and behave. Our service is judgement-free and can be accessed from home. Find out more on our website.

ieso Online Therapy
This blog has been written by a member of the clinical team at ieso.

Read more

6 Mins
Awareness Days
October 9, 2023
Access to mental health is a universal human right

Mental health affects us all. This means it's essential that mental health services are equally available to everyone, everywhere. This World Mental Health Day, 10th October, we explore the right to access care.

5 mins
Awareness Days
October 2, 2023
Why it’s important to make time for self-reflection

This week is National Work Life Week, a campaign led by the charity, Working Families, to get people talking about wellbeing at work and work-life balance.

8 Mins
Online CBT
September 25, 2023
When to intervene if you’re worried about a loved one’s mental health

Have you noticed a change in a friend or family member’s behaviour or mindset? Maybe they’re isolating themselves, worrying more than usual or acting erratically. Here are some tips on how you can support them.