Although Christmas means a packed social calendar for some, for others it can be a time of greater loneliness.

There are many possible reasons for this. It might be a result of comparing other people’s social lives to our own and feeling inadequate. Christmas can also remind us of people we’ve lost and trigger feelings of grief or sadness.

For a variety of reasons, some people just don’t have people to be with at Christmas. It could be that their family has drifted apart, or that they simply can’t meet family due to the pandemic.

Whatever the circumstances and whatever the cause, we’ve written this blog to offer a few tips on how to get by.

Don’t be ashamed

The pressure to have a good time at Christmas can make loneliness harder to deal with. It makes some people feel embarrassed, as if they’ve somehow “failed” to live up to the ideal Christmas. The truth is that there is no “ideal” Christmas, and loneliness at this time is more common than you might think.

We do understand that embarrassment isn’t like a light switch that you can turn on and off. But try reminding yourself that your feelings are normal and shared by many other people. That way, you can be practical and try to find strategies for coping.

Try volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to get out of the house and meet people through important and rewarding work. Christmas can be difficult for many people. Whether it’s helping the homeless or keeping elderly people company, there are huge numbers of charities looking for volunteers.

It’s a way to make real human connections, and to help people who need it. Not only is that good in itself, but it also provides a real self-esteem boost to know you’ve helped someone.

You can simply search online for opportunities in your area. The Big Issue also has lots of great advice and links for finding volunteer work.

Talk to someone

There are lots of great mental health charities that operate throughout the festive season. These are a few that we highly recommend …

Mind is a great source of support and reliable information on all things mental health.

You can phone Samaritans 24/7, any day of the year including Christmas Day on 116 123. You can also email them at jo@samaritans.org. They’ll offer judgement-free support about anything that’s worrying you or getting you down. Calls are free, and they don’t show up on your bill.

There are plenty of other helplines around if you want something more specific or specialised. The Helpline Partnership has a huge list on its website.

Getting through it

We hope this goes some way to helping you get through it. The important thing to know is that even if you’re lonely, you’re not alone. There are other people who feel the same, and many ways of finding support if it all feels too much.

We wish you the very best for Christmas and the New Year.