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Loneliness over the holidays

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Published: 22 December 2021

Person sitting alone in the dark

The Health and Wellbeing team are closing up the year looking at a common issue for people during Christmas - loneliness. Read on for their tips and advice. 

“For some, the winter months mean opening presents, eating good food and being around family. But for others, the holidays can be a difficult time. 

The isolation that comes with academic holidays and breaks from work can lead to a sense of solitude, loneliness and sadness which can come over us as the days get shorter.

These feelings can be particularly difficult to deal with when you’re not around people physically.  

Although it’s perfectly normal to feel lonely - even surrounded by a huge crowd – humans evolved as social animals, meaning we do best when we have our friends and family around us. 

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the forced isolation that can come with things like a pandemic. 

If you’re feeling alone this holiday season, the best thing you can do is find ways to make connections with people, whether that’s face-to-face or online. 

Be a yes person 

Often loneliness itself can lead to situations where you feel more isolated.  

The negative emotions that come with being on your own are difficult to break out of, leading many to lack the motivation they need to socialise again. 

Instead of getting caught in this cycle, create a new narrative in your mind. You are a yes person.  

If someone asks you to go to a party, say yes. Invited for a coffee? Yes, please. Family Zoom call coming up that you are finding excuses to miss? Tell those voices you’re a yes person now.  

The problem with isolating yourself is that you often come to regret it when you have the moment alone you wanted.  

Instead, fight past that and make saying yes a habit. 

Work and study 

One of the biggest causes of loneliness is feeling like you have nowhere to go during the holiday period. 

Classes are over and many of us are off work until the new year, leaving a big gap in your schedule. 

While this can be a relief for some, if you’re a person that suffers from loneliness it can be a difficult shift in your daily life. 

There are a few ways to stay busy during the winter months, so it depends on what you want to get out of your time. 

Wanting to work towards your degree is great! At the University of Sunderland in London, we obviously welcome all the hard work our students like to put in. 

You could set up a study group or a WhatsApp chat with your classmates to go over your notes from the previous year. 

But if that sounds like a lot of work, don’t forget this break is also meant to be about you finding the time to reset, relax and get yourself ready to excel in the new term. 

Why not try volunteering, for example. It’s a way of ‘working’ without actually working meaning you will be occupied during the time you would normally be feeling alone.  

But you’ll also benefit from knowing that you are helping people out during a difficult time in their lives.  

London is a wonderful city for volunteering, with a long and well-established culture of people wanting to put their time into a good cause. 

Check out this article from The Londonist for some suggestions on finding the right place for you. 

Whatever you choose to do with your time over the winter holidays, remember that although you might feel alone, it’s never really the case. 

There are plenty of people out there to, whether that’s friends and family, or services like the Red Cross’ Connecting Communities London project. 

And of course, the Health and Wellbeing team will be open from Thursday 6th January 2021 all well." 

If you need to talk about medical conditions like mental health and find out what help the University can provide, the Health and Wellbeing team are here for you.     

Book your appointments through Compass, email them at londonhealth@sunderland.ac.uk or call on 0207 531 7343.   

Find out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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