How To Combat Loneliness During the Festive Season

13 Dec ‘22
3 min
Finding purpose
Matthäus Schnell
Reviewed by psychologist Judith Klenter
3 astuces pour surmonter la solitude pendant les fêtes
Going to a Christmas market together, drinking some mulled wine, baking your first batch of Christmas biscuits: December is filled with festive activities. It’s a time to wind down, relax and spend quality time with family and friends. 


Within this scenario, you might find yourself thinking: well, that’s great for other people, but that’s not me! If that’s the case, you’re not alone here. In fact, many people feel extra lonely during the festive season. In this article, psychologist Judith Klenter is going to talk you through the causes of loneliness during this time of the year and will share some tips to start the new year on a happy note


Why do you feel so lonely at Christmas?


Although lots of people feel lonely over Christmas, the reasons for this feeling vary greatly from person to person, according to psychologist Judith Klenter. Possible reasons might include:


  • You live abroad and are unable to fly home
  • You keep seeing posts and pictures of loved ones celebrating Christmas on social media and it gives you FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out)
  • You don’t have good relationships with your family
  • You’re struggling with financial difficulties
  • You don’t celebrate Christmas for cultural or religious reasons


This last reason in particular can be a big challenge when you live in a country where the dominant culture is really into celebrating Christmas. This leads to many people feeling excluded, especially when everyday life grinds to a halt and all the shops are shut. 


Christmas might also represent a money issue. When things get tight financially at the end of the year, many people aren’t able to go to Christmas markets with their friends, hit the ice rink or take part in other activities. This makes them feel lonelier.


Judith emphasises that not being in contact with family can also be a decisive factor when it comes to loneliness. That applies especially for queer people with homophobic families, but also for people with family childhood trauma or generally difficult family situations: Even if these people haven’t been in contact with their family all year, it’s still often difficult to be alone at Christmas because there’s of a lot of cultural emphasis on this as a family celebration.” 


💡 You might be interested in this too: What to Do If You’re Feeling Lonely


How to tackle loneliness during the festive season


Surprisingly, we’re not alone when we feel lonely over Christmas. In fact, according to a survey, around 33% of adults have felt lonely at some point in life. What can we do to tackle this feeling? Here are our tips for dealing with loneliness over the Christmas period and also beyond. 


1. Celebrate alone


According to Judith, you can easily avoid loneliness by planning one nice thing for yourself for each day of Christmas. For example, you could take a long bath, read a good book or watch a cosy Christmas movie. Days off over Christmas are the perfect opportunity to unwind and recover from stress (particularly the kind caused by social events). See them as a chance to connect with a sense of contentment within yourself and with your own plans. 


2. Create opportunities to celebrate with others


If you’re finding it hard to celebrate alone, you can always find other opportunities to plan a get-together with loved ones. For example, you could take part in a video call during a particular tradition (e.g., dinner, joint breakfast, unwrapping gifts). 


What’s more, there will also be lots of other people in similar situations: for example, if you know friends or colleagues who are also alone at Christmas, you can take the initiative and invite them to join you. Judith points out that you can use Christmas to check in with friends and family and invest in existing relationships.


Judith also recommends creating opportunities to get in contact with other (new) people: e.g., you could take a language course, join a group (e.g., ex-pats) or go into the office more often to talk to your colleagues. There are also apps like Bumble (BFF mode), which aren’t just focused on dating, but also on finding new friends.


As you can see, there are plenty of ways to either reconnect with social contacts or form new ones, so there’s bound to be something that works for you.


3. Time for reflection


Finally, the festive season also offers an opportunity to learn more about your personal feelings and needs. Is your loneliness chronic or a one-off (e.g., because you’re spending Christmas in a different country)? What do you really want (more friends, a partner, a pet…)?” According to Judith, these are the questions you should ask yourself in order to establish where your loneliness stems from and if it’s just related to Christmas or if it’s something more general. 


It also helps massively to talk about your feelings and to communicate openly: Naming your feelings makes them less abstract. We’re not able to process what we’re not allowed to feel or discuss.” 


How OpenUp can support you


Do you feel overwhelmed by loneliness? Book an introductory consultation at OpenUp now and learn exactly how you can change your situation with the help of psychologists.