Holiday Season Isolation and How To Deal With It
Holiday season isolation can be destructive to your self-esteem; however, you can learn to deal with the pain of holiday season isolation. Perhaps you don’t have real friends or family, you have a toxic family, loved ones are far away or friends are too busy with their own families. The festive season can also be a trigger for mental health issues including depression, anxiety, disordered eating, bipolar disorder, addictions and grief. If you're experiencing a mental health issue you might not be in the mood to celebrate, and you can feel isolated even if you're surrounded by people. Alternatively, you might not celebrate due to your beliefs. No matter what the reason for your holiday season isolation, it's important to minimise the impact it has on your self-esteem and general wellbeing.
How Holiday Season Isolation Hurts Your Self-Esteem
Experiencing holiday season isolation can make you believe you don’t fit in and that can damage your self-esteem. Expectations have a large part to play, including expectations from others as well as yourself. People expect you to celebrate, be happy and festive and there can be enormous pressure (Forcing Yourself To Be Happy Is A Warning Sign Of Depression). Additionally, no matter what you do, you will be reminded of the festive season, even if you don’t leave the house. Businesses and services close down, too, which makes it challenging to carry on with your usual activities.
If you find yourself experiencing holiday season isolation year after year, you might be particularly hard on yourself for allowing this to happen time and time again.
Tips on Dealing with Holiday Season Isolation
- Acknowledge your reality. Your circumstances might not be great but that’s your current reality. Make the most of what you have right now and accept those things you can’t control. At the same time, take steps to change those things that you can control. Realise that change takes time and you might have to let it be for this holiday season.
- Know that you’re not alone. Holiday season isolation is common but well hidden, and there are many others who are feeling isolated, just like you are.
- Connect with people. It can be helpful to find ways to reach out to others. For example, joining Meetups, community groups or events in your area. Volunteering is a great way of connecting with people and building self-esteem. You can also connect with people online (such as through the HealthyPlace online forums).
- Make the most of your current situation. Being alone is an opportunity to do something for yourself. You could use that time to pursue a hobby, read a good book, write, draw, colour or listen to music. Another idea is to focus your energy on learning and self-development. Holiday season isolation doesn't have to be all bad.
- Limit exposure to media or use it to benefit you. The media can either be helpful or harmful depending on your circumstances. If it is a trigger, the holiday season might be a good time to limit exposure to television and social media (How Social Media Messes With Your Confidence). Conversely, the media can be useful in connecting with other people and researching topics for self-development.
- Have realistic expectations. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by expecting the holidays to turn out a certain way. Accept that it's not going to be perfect and that's okay. Also, stop focusing on other people’s expectations because it’s different for everyone. If you’re going through a hard time, be easy on yourself and set healthy boundaries with toxic people.
- Realise that other people have issues, too. Know that what you see is a biased reality and the festive season is not all jolly. Many others are struggling with dysfunctional families, grief, being away from loved ones, not having friends or having a mental illness.
- Think of the holiday season as temporary. The festive season will pass before you know it, and you will get through holiday season isolation intact. Think of it as just another day and keep on carrying on. Stick to your routine as much as possible, if that’s going to be helpful. Alternatively, do something for yourself and make it a special occasion just for you.
- Be kind to yourself. It’s not shameful to be or feel alone and it’s important to be easy on yourself. Treat yourself with respect. Even if you're repeatedly isolated year after year, stop being too hard on yourself. Instead, take steps to address the underlying issues and realise that change takes time.
Most importantly, know that you’re not alone even when you’re feeling isolated. If you are struggling, I encourage you to reach out to someone or seek the help of a mental health professional. There’s absolutely no shame in getting help. Holiday season isolation might be a harsh reality for now, but you can learn to minimise the impact.
Agathangelou, F. (2015, December 15). Holiday Season Isolation and How To Deal With It, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, June 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/12/dealing-with-holiday-season-isolation
Author: Fay Agathangelou
Marianne, thanks. I know. I have had many lunches with customers and 90% of time they are on phone. And I buy.
In January, I am getting flip phone again. I also bought a typewriter from a guy that refurbishes them. Typewriting makes you think.
Good luck with everything.
John, I really enjoyed reading your email. Technology is fine, but there has to be a limit. I still write letters or send cards with a written message inside. Just signing a card is so 'blah'. If one has the time to sign it then you also have the time to pen a small message. Plus, I write, not print, my address complete with the 9-digit zip code and using a ruler so it's easy to read. Two people sitting at a table having dinner and both are on their phones playing a game. What, isn't your date important? I feel use of a cell phone or other hand-held electronic device is rude!!!
I feel bad for you two. It seems the wicked win and the honest get slandered. Nice guys do finish last. There is hope. It may not be seen yet, but hope is there. Keep going.
Oh my Beth! This sounds so much like my story it amazes me! My mother was dying and my step dad and daughters encouraged me to drive an eight hour drive thru Yellowstone Park in the middle of the night just nine hours before the park closed for the season. I drove on black ice all the way thru the park without passing one car. I made it with fifteen minutes to spare before the gate was closed for the rest of the year. When I made it to my mom and step-dad's house I was locked out. When I was let in I went to my mother's room where she lay so frail from cancer. It was on here deathbed that I told her I loved her so much She had been calling for me all evening and morning. She just realized who I was and smiled when three raging step-sisters and step-father came in the room verbally attacking me and literally climbing over the top of my mom trying to reach for my throat. When I grabbed my purse and ran for the front door my step-dad punched me in the chest. They chased me to my car and were pounding on the windows trying to shatter them! I sped off and drove 15 miles to Montana and found a cheap hotel room for the night. My mom passed away early the next morning without me by her side. They were very wealthy but it all went to him. There is a trust but he decides which of us children (7) five being of his get any off it an for what. He has always been a bully. He has always been jealous of me and my mother's relationship. In my opinion this is at the top of the worst, mean and evil behavior a person could ever display. To have the nerve to run out a child or adult but baby of the family. My mom has us two (an older sister that was with me and treated the same way) and myself. To think he had a right to do this because it was in his or their home makes me ill. It is at the very top of the worst things a person has ever done as far as mean goes. It has been a year since she passed. I was not at the funeral for reasons I am sure you could understand. If they did this in front of my dying mother what would make me think they wouldn't do this at her funeral, so I never got to attend or say goodbye. I am so full of resentment and even more frustrated because no matter how many prayers I have prayed or searching for solutions i simply cannot find the right one that allows me peace of mind an heart. Do you have any suggestion? I am currently considering a law suit but have no money. I am on disability and ad to use my monthly rent check to pay for a hotel room the night she passed. I am desperate and your story sounds so close to mine. I hope you have an easier time of coping because my day is consumed with resentment and sickness because someone can be so mean and there not be a consequence. My mom was so kind and generous to all.
She treated his kids as her own everyday and she did not deserve this. I also have a 15 year old son who was and continues to be ignored or even acknowledged by his only 'so called' grandpa, aunts and uncle since that day. He was not with me thank God that morning. Bless you Beth. Please answer back with your advice and especially your story.-Terri
This is first holidays since my family shunned me...took money discredited me basically screwed me over and told me I'm crazy and a terrible person......very hard to see holiday decorations..hear Christmas songs...see families together...I feel so very alone
Loneliness is hard. You feel worthless in a world that doesn't know you exist. People are meant to be social and around other people. The Holidays can make that worse, no doubt. I think we communicated more in the 80s with no internet, Facebook, or cell phones. We actually had to talk. I think people need to talk more. Even if they are strangers at a store.