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How to combat feeling lonely during a COVID Christmas

More people are expected to spend Christmas alone this year.

As the coronavirus pandemic has limited the possibility of get-togethers with family and friends, many people are heading into the festive season worried about feeling shut off from the world.  

If you are concerned about what the holidays will hold this year, we have put together some tips and advice to help you prepare for Christmas during the COVID-19 outbreak:

Plan and structure your days

Put together a festive diary and fill your days with different things to stay busy:

  • Book in your working hours
  • Organise regular catch ups with family and friends. Remember there is plenty of technology available to help us stay connected
  • Schedule in time for hobbies and activities
  • Have your breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time every day
  • Dedicate one or two hours a day to self-care

By keeping your diary full, with a daily plan and routine, this will help you to feel more structured and secure. We understand that being proactive and making plans can be difficult when you don’t feel up to it but keeping busy and getting into the habit of organising catch-ups with people, will help to reduce the risk of feeling lonely over the festive season.

Use technology

If you usually meet with family or friends on Christmas Day or over the holidays, do the festive things that you would usually do over a video call. You may even want to start a new virtual Christmas tradition:

  • Organise video catch-ups with the people you would usually see
  • Get festive games and quizzes in the diary with different groups
  • Set up a virtual viewing party of a Christmas film
  • Open cards and gifts with one another on screen

On Christmas Day, you may want to video call the people you usually spend the day with to open gifts or eat your Christmas dinner at the same time. That way, you can still chat and enjoy the day together.  

The internet can also be a great way to meet new people, and like-minded peers who share your hobbies and interests, so you may want to try chatting to other people online this festive season.

Write a daily gratitude list

Instead, try to shift the focus of your attention and keep a daily gratitude list over the festive season. Before you go to bed, write down five things you’re grateful for or are happy about and reflect upon them again when you wake up.

Be kind to yourself

It is likely that this won’t be the Christmas that you hoped for. So be kind to yourself during this difficult time.

Treat yourself to your favourite food and snacks, take the time to relax and plan in a few of your favourite self-care activities.

Speak to a professional

If you are feeling overwhelmed and find it difficult to cope with daily life, reach out and speak to your GP or a mental health specialist.

Some of the things you are going through may be more than just loneliness. Talking to a health professional about your symptoms will help them to determine the right level of support for you to receive. Here at Priory, we can provide you with access to expert psychiatrists, therapists and other mental health professionals, who are available to offer care and support.

Loneliness support resources

  • Age UK - organise weekly friendship calls through their Telephone Friendship Service
  • The Silver Line- a free helpline for older people across the UK open every day and night
  • The Samaritans - a free helpline available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • AbilityNet - helps people of any age, living with any disability or impairment to use technology
  • WaveLength – a loneliness charity giving media technology to those most in need
  • Mind – Mind’s Side-by-Side online community gives you the opportunity to listen, share and be heard
  • ChildLine - a counselling service for children and young people with a helpline, email service, message board and 1-2-1 online chat

 

Blog reviewed by Dr Sandra Pascoe, Psychologist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Bristol 

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