It’s Christmas, and everybody’s brimming with the joyful Christmas spirit… except for you. Actually, about 25% of Americans say they are lonely.  Perhaps you’ve suffered personal loss through death or divorce. Maybe you live far from your family and can’t go home for the holidays. Or maybe you dread holiday gatherings because you have no significant other to go with you. Although it’s normal to occasionally feel lonely, letting loneliness get the better of you can be damaging. Loneliness can lead to sleep dysfunction, higher blood pressure, and depression. Fortunately, you can combat holiday loneliness – and the resulting health woes – by taking these steps:

  • Realize you aren’t alone. Many people feel lonely… so reach out to someone else who might be experiencing similar feelings. If you’re a member of a church community or other organization, go to a meeting.
  • Donate your time. It feels good to help others, and you may make new friends with other volunteers while you’re there.
  • Plan enjoyable activities for your time alone. Read, listen to music, or watch a favorite movie to take your mind off your loneliness.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If the loneliness is truly a burden, reach out to community agencies to see if there are services for those who live alone.

Although most people can successfully overcome loneliness, prolonged social isolation may lead to depression. Seek help if you experience loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, lack of concentration, or feelings of hopelessness along with your loneliness.