lonelyThe holiday season is here. You see people decorating their houses, wrapping gifts and placing them under the Christmas the tree and you feel the warmth and the joy of having your family and friends close to you. The magic of the holidays bring people together and we look forward to this celebration all year-long. However, for some of us, this season is a reminder of the mistakes we have made and the people we may have hurt along the way.  Maybe the loss of a loved one and the end of a long-term relationship can bring up sadness and anxiety during the holidays. It is very common for some people to feel extremely lonely during this season.

Loneliness has been described as an emotion that is characterized by a feeling of emptiness and solitude.  Some words people use to describe loneliness include: lost, afraid, numb, pain, nothingness, overwhelmed, and so on.

According to Carlson and Love (2010), recent studies have revealed that about 25 percent of the American population has not talked to anyone about anything important to them in six months. Also they found that another 19.6 percent of the people surveyed said that they only have one close friend  they can talk to. These numbers show that close to 50 percent of the population has one close friend or none at all. How did we get here?

Today we live in a fast-paced world; we work longer hours or we may even have two jobs. Also, we have distractions such as the Internet, social media, and cellphones. It’s becoming more and more difficult to develop and nurture relationships. This lifestyle eventually leads to isolation and after a while we start to struggle with loneliness.  According to Carlson and Love (2010) as we become more dependent on technology to stay connected to others, the lonelier we become.

Here are a few tips that can help you come out of isolation and live a fulfilled life:

  1. Let go of the past: focus on living the present. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made in the past and make a conscious effort to move forward.
  2. Discover your purpose: stop comparing yourself to others and start defining your own purpose. Ask your self: “who am I?” and “ how am I making a difference in my community?”
  3. Donate your time and talents: give back by helping people who are struggling. You will feel good about yourself and will realize that you are not alone. This will give you a sense of gratitude for the life you have now.
  4. Get a pet: rescue a dog or a cat.  It’s hard to be lonely when you have a pet that constantly wants to play and be around you.
  5. Be more active: join a gym, start practicing yoga or running. Not only exercise is necessary to maintain a good health, the activation of the endorphins will make you feel happy.
  6. Rediscover your hobbies and find a social group: think about the things you enjoy doing such as singing, dancing, acting and try doing these activities with other people who have the same interests as you.
  7. Laugh and Be Thankful: watch funny movies and read funny jokes; people say that laughter is the best medicine and it’s true. Finally, find opportunities to be thankful everyday. Try coming up with 5 things that you are thankful for and write them down. This exercise will help you shift your focus from the negative to the positive things in your life.

References:  Carlson, J. & Love, P. (2010).   Brief Therapy for Depression. Brief Therapy Conference, Orlando, Fl.

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Marta Rocha

About the Author: Marta Rocha is a Mental Health Counselor. Marta is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Marta Rocha is specialized in the areas of Marriage Counseling, Family Issues, Stress Management, Leadership Training, Anxiety, Depression, Sports Psychology, Grief, and Substance Abuse & Addictions. Marta Rocha has 12 years of experience in sales & marketing, advertising, promotions, management, and professional development. Her professional affiliations are with the American Counseling Association, and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

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