Many of us see the festive season as a magical time of year filled with love, socialising and happiness but for some, it can be difficult to navigate.
People tend to use this time of year to get together and spend time with loved ones. However for others, this can result in an intensified feeling of loneliness at Christmas. It is the time of year that can deepen pre-existing feelings of loneliness or bring up trauma of difficult times in past Christmases. Equally it could be the first year a person is spending the period alone or without a loved one – it can be especially difficult.
Teamed with the isolation many of us have experienced over the past 18 months, the fact that some won’t be able to see loved ones, it is unsurprising that many will feel lonely.
We have put together a number of things local to Bridgend that you can do to help yourself and others combat loneliness this festive season.
1. Sign Up to a Festive Event
Keeping busy and getting creative can help distract you from feeling lonely – a busy diary can mean less thinking time.
Whilst working with other people, you could take part in wreath-making workshops, Christmas carol concerts and so much more. In Bridgend you can attend Ton Farm Nursey between the 27th November and 12th December to create a Christmas wreath for yourself or a loved one.
Perhaps you enjoy Christmas markets and fayres? Just up the road from Bridgend, Pontyclun is hosting a Christmas fayre on December 4th where there will be market stalls, food and entertainment.
St Donat’s castle in Llantwit Major is hosting a Christmas in the castle where people can sit down with food and drinks and watch a festive film in a festive setting. What a lovely thought!
2. Get in touch with old friends – close by and far afield
Christmas is a time when many people slow down and tend to have more time at home. This is the perfect opportunity to reach out and get in touch with old friends from school, university or old jobs.
Sending a ‘Merry Christmas’ message is the perfect ice breaker and is sure to get you talking just like old times. If you can’t meet up face to face don’t let that put you off, sometimes picking up the phone or FaceTime is just as fun as catching up in person.
3. Exercise outside your home
We have mentioned before that exercising releases endorphins and energises us. However, exercising outdoors in particular is proven to help with depression and improve our mood. Running outside can distract from negative feelings and give purpose to your time. By leaving the house to exercise you are likely to bump into people and perhaps have a nice conversation you wouldn’t have had if you stayed inside.
4. Aim to have a conversation with someone different each day
Speaking to friends or family can help improve your mood and distract you from how you are feeling. If chatting in person isn’t convenient for you, why not set up a Skype call with your nearest and dearest? Here you have no pressure to host people and can stay in the comfort of your own
home. You could theme your call to make it more fun, why not put on your favourite Christmas jumper or all make cakes that you can eat together?
You are not going to be the only person feeling lonely at Christmas – you are not alone!
You could help yourself and others by volunteering during the festive season. CRISIS, a homeless charity are looking for people to volunteer over the Christmas period to be call handlers – here you can help those who don’t have a home or anyone else to talk to.
Your local food banks and churches may be looking to host dinners over the Christmas period so you can always check in with them as we are sure they would appreciate any helping hands.
If you would like to talk to people about how you are feeling there are many charities out there who are there to help. Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is open from 5pm until midnight 365 days a year and offers listening services for those in need, for support call 0800 58 58 58. Samarians is also open 24/7 365 days a year and offers support via phone email and post, for support call 116 123.
Remember, you are not alone. Reach out or use support available, and the pay back will be worth it. We wish you a happy Christmas.