Loneliness and the Holidays in 2020

Welcome to the Weekly Well-Being Connection! Each week we will share advice from our clinical experts on ways to care for your mental health and well-being throughout COVID-19.

With the shifting of the seasons, many of us are naturally turning our thoughts to upcoming holidays and how they will be different.

Holidays bring pressure to be “Happy” at this time of year

A lot of people I have connected with lately have wondered about how to sustain connections if we are not able to be together with family and friends. While I cannot say I am thrilled about how different things might look this year, I am thankful that we are bringing attention to the topic of loneliness and isolation during the holidays. For many of us, the holidays are not an inherently happy time and we can feel lonely and isolated even when there is not a pandemic. As a counselor, I think it is important to acknowledge that holidays can be really mixed. There can be so much pressure to “be happy” at this time of year, and yet, holidays can naturally bring up feelings of grief, sadness, and anger. Sometimes making the decision to be alone at the holidays can be the most emotionally healthy choice for someone to make. Yet, feelings of loneliness can be an added stressor to this choice.

Given the number of holidays many of us will be celebrating over the next several months, we wanted to focus today’s content on tips for managing the loneliness that might arise this holiday season.

Retired Astronaut Scott Kelly Speaks About Isolation

Retired astronaut Scott Kelly was interviewed for this great piece . He shares techniques he used to deal with social isolation during his 340 consecutive days in outer space and a resource called connect2affect that offers tools to overcome social isolation. The article is a terrific read. Connect2affect is a great resource. While it is geared towards older adults, they have a comprehensive list of resources for many age groups and a social isolation risk assessment you can complete for yourself or a loved one. If isolation or loneliness is something coming up for you, please spend a few minutes checking out this resource. It is a wealth of information and very user-friendly.

Lower Expectations

Be mindful of expectations and comparisons and how they impact feelings of loneliness. So many of us can judge ourselves as falling short which can trigger and intensify loneliness. We say it all the time in these posts, but now, more than ever we all need to give ourselves grace and compassion. In each moment, we are all doing the best we can given everything we are experiencing.

Try out opposite to emotion action. This post explains this skill in detail. The short version is that when our emotions are intense and overwhelming, sometimes doing the opposite of what our emotion is urging us to do can help us create a shift. Loneliness is tough. The urge it creates in us is to isolate and withdraw. This usually makes the loneliness more intense. Acting opposite to this urge, and connecting instead of withdrawing can be powerful. And, the social connection does not always have to be a “big” one to create a shift. One of our team members was sharing recently that superficial social connections can be just as impactful as deeper connections. I started thinking about this the other day and realized how much this resonated for me. Sometimes those quick hellos while I am out walking my dog create a sense of connection that gives me a little boost.

Practice Self-Care and be Mindful

Keep taking care! Sleep and rest, balanced eating, movement, and time outdoors can help us all feel more balanced. Being aware of substance use and social media use and how those can intensify feelings of loneliness is important as well.

We know loneliness is intense and powerful, and that there is no simple solution. One of the most impactful tools though is to acknowledge the feeling and find a way to express it. The Colorado Spirit team at AllHealth Network is always available to be a listening ear. Please don’t hesitate to reach out, and we can talk specifically about what might be a support for you. Please call 720-707-6789 or visit our webpage at www.allhealthnetwork.org/Colorado-Spirit

Would speaking to someone help?

To speak with someone in the Colorado Spirit Program about stress related to the pandemic, please call 720-707-6789 or visit our web page at www.allhealthnetwork.org/Colorado-Spirit

For information about other services at AllHealth Network or to get connected with ongoing behavioral health support, please call: 303-730-8858.

AllHealth Network is continuing to provide service via telehealth or by phone and our Crisis Walk-in Center remains open 24/7. To learn more about what other community mental health centers are doing, please visit The Colorado Behavioral Health Council COVID-19 website.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and are in need of immediate assistance, please call the Colorado Crisis Hotline at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255

Resource links

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