The holidays are supposed to be a beautiful, cozy, wonderful time of year. However, many of us feel lonely during this season. Winter weather, family challenges, and holiday stress can all increase feelings of loneliness.

Of course, we can’t change the weather. Likewise (and unfortunately) we can’t change our families either. Still, there are a lot of small things that are under our control.

We can find little ways to reduce feelings of loneliness, a day or moment at a time.

Moreover, we can find ways to keep our brains busy. If we let our minds ruminate on painful situations, then we often just feel worse. When we focus on things that make us feel good, we can stop feeling so lonely. That’s where the real magic of the holidays is – right inside of us!

Here are eight small ways to reduce loneliness during the holiday season.

1. Keep a Daily Gratitude List

Write down three things each day that you are honestly grateful for. Choose different things every day. Be as detailed as possible. If you can focus more on what you appreciate, then you will think less about what you wish were different.

2. Visit People You Like

The easiest way to resist loneliness is to spend time with someone who makes you happy. This doesn’t have to be a big holiday get together. Instead, enjoy a quick coffee with someone you haven’t seen recently. It doesn’t have to be your best friend. In fact, it could be an acquaintance. The less pressure, the better.

3. Connect using Phone Calls, Emails, and Letter

There is likely someone out there in the world that makes you feel less alone. Contact that person. Have a phone call, with video chat if possible. On the other hand, send emails or even handwritten letters to the people you care about. Express your love.

In fact, send check-in messages to everyone you like. Even a quick instant message conversation can help reduce loneliness.

4. Pet an Animal

Do you have a pet? Spend more time with them this holiday season. Enjoy snuggles, go for walks, or work on some training. If you don’t have a pet, borrow one. See if anyone in your neighborhood needs a holiday pet sitter. Volunteer at your local animal shelter. Caring for an animal, even briefly, can help you focus on something other than yourself.

5. Load Up on Pleasurable Media

Fill your Netflix queue with all of your favorite movies. Create a playlist of the songs that you love the most. Visit your local library and check out a huge stack of enticing books. In other words, fill your days with the entertainment that makes you happy.

6. Reduce Stressful Media

It’s also wise to be selective about what stressors you take in media-wise. Television commercials and magazine ads can make it seem like everyone else has a happy holiday home or social life except for you. Likewise, if you compare yourself to Pinterest-worthy homes and Instagram lives, then you might feel like you’re coming up short. Avoid traditional and social media that doesn’t make you feel content with your own life.

7. Start a New Project

Is there a hobby that you have always wanted to try? Perhaps there is an online class that you would like to take? Engage your brain in a new activity. Then it will be too distracted to worry about what you’re not doing.

8. Change Your Surroundings

If you can afford to take a trip, then go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. If not, then make some small changes around your own home. Sometimes simply shaking things up in your space can give you a fresh new attitude. Surround yourself with things you love.

There are so many little things that you can do to reduce loneliness during the holidays. However, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Therapy can be a great support during a challenging season. Please contact me to make an appointment today.