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Blog / / Holiday Blues
BLOG
Holiday Blues
One of the most frequent psychological topics I hear about as the New Year holidays approach is loneliness during the holidays. I cannot count how often I have heard my clients blaming themselves for the fact that their lives during that period do not match the image of holiday advertisements, in which happy families are gathered round holiday tables. Many people, however, do not experience holidays in this way, and the society never fails in reminding them that they are alone. The New Year holidays is a period which is emphasised as a time that is important to spend within our family circle.

However, what if this is not your story and how you should deal with loneliness?

Not every loneliness is the same

When we say loneliness, the first thing that comes to mind is that we are alone and have no one to turn to. Less often we talk about the fact that we can be lonely even in a relationship. We may have a family that might match that image we see in holiday advertisements, in which however, we feel lonely and estranged. This is a kind of loneliness that we do not talk about enough, and this is about our own feeling that others do not notice us, that they cannot recognise our needs and understand how we feel. I remember one of my clients telling me that she felt less lonely when her husband would go on a business trip, because she knew then that he was physically absent, while she found it much harder to tolerate his psychological absence when they were together.

When during the holidays everyone is relentlessly reminding you that family is what matters, the chance is that you will blame yourself for feeling lonely in spite of having everything one is expected to have – a partner or a family. How is it then possible that you are feeling lonely? This is exactly why this is a time of the year when it is important to remind ourselves that it is bonding that makes us less lonely, not the simple fact that we are surrounded by people.

What you can do is to identify what your needs are during the holiday period and follow what your body is telling you. If you wish to be away from other people, this is completely all right. This may exactly be a way to feel less lonely, since when other people do not see you, you always have a choice to see yourself and what you need, whether it's to snuggle up, make yourself a cup of tea, read your favourite book or watch series.

Find those similar to yourself

One thing that I have learnt from my clients and friends is that you do not need to have a family (in a way the society typically defines it) in order to have (your chosen) family. Maybe you don’t have a partner and you will not be a part of a holiday picture in which we see a large family and a festive table. New Year is a time when we ‘settle our bills’ and ask ourselves how successful we are in life, and one of the key social imperatives is to have a family, as depicted in holiday photos – a husband and a wife, two children, and a Golden Retriever, which all must look nice on Instagram.

Maybe this is not your story and maybe you blame yourself (and the advertisements are there to blame you implicitly, too) for not having succeeded in it, which bears loneliness during holidays. What we tend to forget is that we can choose a family by choosing the right people around us. These are people like us, who may have a little bit different view of what family means. This could be close friend of yours, a colleague from work… just look around you. You will see many people like you, who do not recognise themselves in the holiday advertisements, but who choose to belong where people like themselves are.

Bonding is the opposite of loneliness

The feeling of loneliness during holidays often bears shame and a feeling of inappropriateness. Questions are raised by which we blame ourselves for either feeling lonely in spite of having everything (children, family, marriage...) or not being able to create a life presented in the Christmas advertisement for ourselves.

We often remain alone with such thoughts which then bear even more shame. As Brené Brown put it, ‘shame is like a gremlin – it thrives when we keep it in the dark, but it disappears when we bring it to the light.

This is why I hope I have managed to shed a light on this topic in this blog and to help you look around yourself, to notice that you are not alone, to recognise those who are like you and tell them your story. Since, when we share a story, then we feel bonded, and the loneliness disappears.
AUTHOR
Mia Popić
Psychotherapist