Loneliness can be a problem at any time of year, but most especially around Christmastime.
There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. We can be alone and feel incredibly happy with our own space. It’s also possible to feel lonely when we’re with other people.
Loneliness is often experienced because we feel a lack of connection. Genuine connection is felt when we feel understood, heard and like we fit in. We feel meaningful connection when with people with similar values. This can be missing even if we’re surrounded by a large group of people.
Meaningful connection is fundamental to human wellbeing. It can be difficult to feel this if we’re alone too much. While having our own alone space is important for self-care, connection with others is also. There needs to be a balance.
I believe Christmas turns up the volume on feelings of loneliness because it’s a meaningful time of year.
It’s the time when family and loved ones traditionally gather. If we’re alone, we sometimes have the perception that everyone else is having the perfect family Christmas. When in fact quite the opposite is true.
On the other side, if we are with family we’ve outgrown, we feel like an outsider. We still love them but no longer share the same values. Because of this gatherings aren’t what they used to be.
While I was raising my kids as a single mum I spent every second year alone over the two week Christmas break. Their dad would take them to Sydney to spend time with his family.
My kids were only 3 and 6 when this started happening. The first few times I cried when I woke up in the morning. Having no family around me at all, it was a difficult time. Over the years though I got used to it.
I saw a colleague share an article recently on this important topic that I believe needs discussion. The article I haven’t actually read yet. But I thought I would share how I personally got through those challenging Christmases.
Find your special place and begin with connection to yourself
When we think of connection we automatically assume it’s with other people. But connection with self can help ease that sense of loneliness.
I believe in the superconscious. That feeling of oneness where we are all connected at any given moment. That’s connection with meaning.
You can connect with yourself in many different ways. It’s about being fully present. This can be achieved through practices like meditation, yoga, TaiChi etc. Full presence can be felt when you’re in the bath, listening to music, playing with creativity. You can even feel it while in nature. This can be experienced just standing bare foot on your garden lawn. And believe it or not, beautiful nature spots are even present in the largest of cities when you look.
My special place is the beach. I would meditate at the beach when my kids were away interstate. This is the way I felt connected to all that is, including them. And I had some of my most profound spiritual experiences during that time.
Be grateful for all that is present in your life, including this Christmas
If we feel lonely it’s often because there is an unconscious thought that everyone else has what we want. This is comparison at it’s most unresourceful. Through the conversations I have with women, I can assure you this is definitely not the case.
It might be that there are people we miss and wish we could be with. Or it could be that we think no one cares. With any of these thought patterns we’re not in the present. We’re more than likely thinking about the past or our head is thousands of miles away from our body.
Bringing ourselves back to the present moment in the space of gratitude, eases the loneliness. This is because gratitude is the closest state to love. And in the space of love we always feel connected.
Think about what you are most grateful for this Christmas, even if you’re experiencing what you don’t want. There is always something in any given moment to be thankful for.
Take a pen and journal and start writing about all that you appreciate. See what you are writing about in your mind’s eye. Once you begin writing, the words and gratitude feels just naturally flow.
Accepting invitations and opportunities can combat the loneliness
Especially when alone, we can often feel apprehensive about accepting invitations. The thing is, this can be a time when you can create meaningful connections.
Spending Christmas with another family instead of my own felt like it would increase my sadness. I also thought that I was being invited out of sympathy. But when I got there, I realized none of that was true.
By accepting invitations from people who share similar values, deeper bonds can be formed.
This was certainly the case for me. Twenty-five years on with kids now grown, our friendship continues to deepen. We are best friends or soul sisters if you prefer that term. But it began with accepting the invitation when I felt most vulnerable.
You can even accept invitations if you are spending the day with family you feel out of sync with. There’s nothing wrong with arriving a little later or leaving a bit earlier.
Another great way to form meaningful connections is to spend time with groups who share a similar interest. I have a client who goes away with different groups for a few days over Christmas. This is a fabulous idea.
Most of all enjoy what you have because everything comes to an end
Remember that nothing lasts forever. If you’re with family you don’t feel connected to, there will eventually be empty seats at the table. When that time comes you might even miss them or feel the void.
If you’re alone the time will come when you’re not. And you might wish for the peace of your own space. Or get flustered with the busyness of Christmas.
For every downside you notice, there is always an equal upside.
Enjoy the upsides of your Christmas this year no matter what you’re doing or who you’re with. As you do this, you will notice the loneliness greatly dissipates.
Remind yourself that nothing ever comes in exactly the same way again. Enjoy what is.
By joining a group of likeminded women feelings of loneliness can be greatly eased. That’s why I created the Women Reinventing MidLife Club and membership fees are at a very affordable rate. If you would like to try it out for a month or two, you can find more details and enrol HERE