While everyone is singing and shopping with holiday cheer, all you can think about is not having someone to share the holidays with. You may be going through a relationship breakup, divorce, or death of a loved one, and you are worried about how to get through the holiday season this year.

Instead of feeling like celebrating, you just feel lonely. While you can’t change the loss, you can find ways to cope with loneliness this holiday season.
Social isolation is painful and stressful. Even if you haven’t experienced a recent loss, you may feel lonely sometimes. It’s a cue that you need to reach out to someone.

The first step in coping with loneliness is being aware of any thoughts that prevent you from connecting with others. Which of these assumptions do you have?
• I will never find love again.
• I can’t handle being hurt again.
• I don’t want to burden others.
• He/she doesn’t want to hear about me.
• I don’t have anything to say to others.

If yes, these assumptions are probably adding to your feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Are you ready to find new ways to connect with others even though you feel anxious and unsure? If you wait until you are more confident, you may not ever act on your desire to connect. So, set small goals and your confidence will catch up to you.

1. Focus on Who is Reaching Out to You: Focus more on who reaches out to you then on who doesn’t respond. Put your energy where you get the most response and reciprocation. For now, accept more invitations than you turn down.

2. Let Someone Know Your Desire: Instead of waiting for others to reach out to you, let them know you are looking to connect. For instance, share with others that you don’t want to be alone this holiday and are looking for a place to spend the day.

3. Re-think Relationship Resources: Many types of relationships feel good and can be a resource for us. While being a couple brings a different kind of feel good, friendships and family can also be developed into a relationship resource.

4. Meet New People: Think about whether or not you want to change how you spend the holidays. Try something new like hosting a friend holiday dinner or volunteering to serve a meal at a homeless shelter. Get out and make connections in a new setting.

5. Find Comfort in Being Alone: When coping with loss, you may not be ready to put energy into new relationships. If you aren’t ready to start new traditions, find ways to comfort yourself, like spiritual practices, journaling, warm blanket, inspiring book, or creating.

You may not feel all the cheer the holiday seasons bring to some, but you can turn the holidays into a time to reach out to those you haven’t lost. A time to rekindle old friendships and develop new connections. This is something worth celebrating – a growth of a person and connections.

Marci Payne, MA, LPC, a resident of Lee’s Summit, offers individual and marriage counseling at marcipayne.com. To schedule free 15-minute phone consult, call 816-373-6761 ext 2.