How to Cope with Loneliness at Christmas

Do you feel more alone at Christmas? Or would you like to help someone else who feels lonely? Here's how you can help yourself and others feel less isolated over the festive season.


Do you feel more alone at Christmas? Or would you like to help someone else who feels lonely? Here's how you can help yourself and others feel less isolated over the festive season.

Christmas is famously ‘the season to be jolly’, but what if you don’t feel that way? For many people who experience isolation, the festive season is a time when their feelings of loneliness are compounded. The emphasis placed on spending time with family, going to parties and giving and receiving gifts at this time of year can be especially difficult for people who don’t have close friends, relatives or much social contact. So, what can we do to help ourselves and others combat loneliness at Christmas?

If you’re feeling lonely, what can you do?

Research by the Co-op and the British Red Cross estimates that almost 20% of the UK population are always or often lonely. Loneliness can affect people of all ages too. If you’re feeling isolated there are some things you could try that might help, such as:

  • Find out what’s happening in your local area – most communities have events you can join in with. Your local community centre, health centre or library will usually have information on classes, coffee mornings, fitness or social groups and volunteering organisations you could get involved with. It’s a great way to meet people in the community and grow a new support network.
  • Get social online – the internet is great for connecting and re-connecting with friends, family and likeminded people who share your interests. From Facebook to forums, the web is a useful resource for curbing isolation, especially for those who aren’t physically able to get out and about so much.
  • Focus on something else – read a really good book. Watch your favourite comedy. Revisit old hobbies or find a new one to help fill your time. If you can find a local creative class or online group to join, all the better. Whatever you do, even if it’s a solitary pursuit, becoming immersed in an activity can help put you in to a different mental state and shift your focus from negative feelings.
  • Get active – exercise can boost your mood and, if you take it outside or to a community fitness class, it can help you meet people. It’s surprising the connections you can make just by taking a daily walk.
  • Ask for help – for example, if you need help to access social activities due to mobility, there might be a transport service you can use. Or if you simply need someone to talk to, you could speak to your GP or get help from a befriending service like the Red Cross or Age UK. If you have friends and family, tell them how you’re feeling – they may not even have realised you’re struggling and could help you.

How can you help others who are feeling lonely?

There are many reasons why we can feel alone, sometimes even when we’re surrounded by people. Moving to a new area where you don’t know anyone and have no support network could be one. Also, things like bereavement, lack of mobility and physical or mental health problems can all have a bearing on our ability to maintain the social contact we need. Whatever the reason someone is lonely, you might be able to help by:

  • Checking in with your friends, relatives and neighbours - especially if you know they live alone or have little family. Something as simple as phoning or popping round and asking someone if they’re OK can make a huge difference.
  • Helping with the Christmas shopping and decorating – older or vulnerable people may have difficulty doing the things we take for granted, like buying and sending gifts or putting up decorations. If you can spare a bit of time to help out, it can help the person connect with those they love and make them feel more of a part of the holidays.
  • Sending an invite for Christmas – if you’ve got a chair to spare, why not include someone in your own Christmas celebrations? An invite to Christmas dinner, asking them round for sherry and mince pies or taking round some treats to share over a cup of tea could make the world of difference to someone who feels alone.
  • Volunteering for a charity – whether it’s a big national charity or a smaller local cause, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities out there where you can help people who are experiencing loneliness. If you want to help older people, charities like South London Cares do great work, as do Reengage with their Community Christmas and Contact the Elderly services. To find other volunteering roles in your community, the Do It website is a great place to start.

So, whether you’re feeling lonely yourself, or you want to help others feel less isolated, why not try some of the above? It could make all the difference in your own life or that of someone else. If we all look out for one another we can help end loneliness.

If you’d like to know more about how our home care and live-in care services could help you or a loved one get the support and companionship they need, get in touch with the Bluebird Care Wandsworth team.