A psychiatrist’s guide to overcoming loneliness and protecting our mental wellbeing this Christmas
22 December, 2021
As the nights draw in and temperatures fall, we can be sure that Christmas is looming large on the horizon. After the disappointment of last year, many of us will be looking forward to a slightly more normal Christmas this time around and will hopefully have a chance to see our family and friends.
For some though Christmas will pass by without much of a song and dance. The absence of festive cheer is particularly likely to be felt by older people, including those who are dealing with bereavement or live far from their relatives.
Years of working as an old age psychiatrist have shown me how important it is for all of us, particularly those who’re vulnerable to loneliness and isolation, to reach out during the festive season.
Here are a few tips on how to REACH OUT:
- Reconnect with people you’ve not spoken to for a long time. Being proactive in relationships can significantly boost mental wellbeing.
- Engage in community activities or volunteering. This can benefit mental wellbeing, reduce loneliness, and help us to connect with others.
- Acknowledge that it might be lonely over the Christmas break. Accepting our circumstances can be freeing and help us to find ways to enjoy the situation we find ourselves in.
- Compassion for ourselves, not just for others, is incredibly important. We are too often quick to show compassion to others and slow to show ourselves the same level of compassion.
- Healthy habits, like eating well, getting the right amount of sleep and exercising helps improve physical health, and maintain a positive mindset.
- Outdoor activities are important if we’re to protect ourselves from isolation. Walking in parks or green spaces in the daylight means we can see others while also exercising, both of which can do wonders for our wellbeing.
- Use a budget over the festive season to help to protect from credit card bills in January which can so often be a source of panic, worry and anxiety.
- Take timeout from the festivities to give our brains and bodies the break they need.