Tips to Avoid Senior Loneliness During the Holidays
For so many people, the holidays are a joyous time of year. Visiting with family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, and sharing memories and traditions can make it a heartwarming time.
But not everyone feels happy around the holidays. In fact, it’s considered by many to be the most emotionally difficult time of year. This can be especially true for older adults. They may have adult children and grandchildren who live far away and are unable to visit. Or they may be coping with the loss of a spouse, intensifying holiday loneliness even more.
These feelings of social isolation aren’t simply unpleasant to experience. If holiday loneliness is prolonged, it can actually cause harm. Short-term senior loneliness can lead to more long-term symptoms of depression. Like any depression, It’s been proven to weaken your immune system, stress your cardiovascular system, and even increase the risk of cognitive decline.
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with and even overcome holiday loneliness. There are proactive steps you can take to prevent social isolation and to ensure you too have a happy holiday.
Here are some strategies to avoid holiday loneliness:
Reach Out to Friends and Family
Find out how the people in your life plan to spend their holiday season. Maybe they must remain far away and you’ll be unable to join them. However, if you take the initiative and ask enough people, you increase the chances of being invited to spend time with people who care about you. You can even reach out to people who you’ve lost touch with. There’s no better time than the holidays to do so.
You could even suggest activities to your family and friends they may enjoy and want to join you for. So often, simply having something to look forward to is a wonderful cure for loneliness and a great way to avoid long-term depression.
Create New Traditions
If you’re sad that you can no longer participate in some of the familiar traditions you used to love so much, you can think of new ones. Dwelling on the past is a sure way to feel sad, so look to the present. Think of some fun, low-stress activities you know you’ll enjoy. You could bake holiday treats, sing holiday songs, or make ornaments to decorate your home or give as gifts.
As you think of new traditions to enjoy during the holidays, you can also think of new people to enjoy them with. If family is far away, reach out to neighbors or nearby friends. You may feel like you’re taking a social risk by asking someone to join you for a holiday activity, but the small risk can lead to the great reward of a fun gathering.
Volunteer Your Time
Helping people in need always feels good, and this is especially true during the holidays. You’ll also be taking the focus away from yourself and how you may be feeling. You’ll be out in the world being a generous and selfless person, and that feels good every time.
Be Kind to Yourself
>Acknowledge that the holidays are an emotional time, especially if you’re dealing with a first holiday after a spouse or other loved one has passed away. Accept that feelings of sadness are normal and that this person you miss so much would want you to continue living your life and enjoying what the holidays have to offer.
As you experience emotional moments, it’s OK for you to take time for yourself. Do things you know are good for your own personal wellness, whether it’s exercise, favorite activities, or meditation. If you start to feel overwhelmed by feelings of holiday loneliness, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. A therapist will be able to help you understand your feelings and help you think of ways to cope and feel good.
Help Someone Else Experiencing Holiday Loneliness
Another great way to give yourself some holiday cheer is to reach out to someone near you who you think might be feeling sad or lonely. Bringing people together and helping others feel included will make everyone feel good. And that’s a party just waiting to happen!
The senior living communities of Retirement Center Management offer so many living options and activities that give you the opportunity to socialize with neighbors and friends. During the holidays, or any time of the year, you’ll love all we have to offer.