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Coping with loneliness this Christmas

Specialist Nurse Adviser at Bupa UK
21 December 2020

For most of us, Christmas is going to look very different this year, especially after the announcement of tighter restrictions across the UK. This festive season, more people than ever are likely to be on their own and missing family and friends. Here are my suggestions for how to keep busy and upbeat this Christmas – and where you can go for support if you need it.

Not alone

If you’re on your own, take heart in the knowledge that you’re not the only one – particularly this year with limitations on socialising. If you have loved ones you’d like to connect with over Christmas, do make the effort – it may well boost their spirits as well as yours. Whether it’s a video call, phone call, sending a Christmas card or even just a text message – there are plenty of ways to stay in touch.

Keeping busy

Although you don’t need a strict schedule, it can help to think ahead about how you’d like to spend the time over Christmas. Think about all the things you enjoy – or perhaps never have time to do. There may be some Christmas specials on TV, or a film or boxset you’ve been meaning to watch. Perhaps this is just the opportunity to get stuck into a new book or jigsaw puzzle, to start (or finish) that craft project or to try some new recipes.

A woman sat on a chair reading

Get outside

If you can, try to get outside – even if it’s just for a short walk. Getting outside for some light exercise can really lift your mood, as well as keeping you active. It might also be a chance to engage with others. Greeting your neighbours from a distance – even just with a quick wave or smile – can help you to feel connected and give you a boost.

Indulge yourself

Why not treat yourself to some of your favourite foods and drinks? Or splash out on an indulgent meal? You don’t need to please anyone else or follow tradition (unless that’s something you enjoy). Try not to overdo it though – drinking or eating to excess can make you feel worse.

Think of other ways to treat yourself too. Feel like taking a long, leisurely bath or spending all day in your pyjamas? Now’s the time to do as you please!

A woman sat on her bed with her laptop

Getting social

If you use social media, bear in mind that Christmas-related posts and photos from contacts may make you feel more isolated. If you do feel this way, you might want to consider a brief hiatus over Christmas.

On the other hand, social media can be a great way to connect with others. One example is the #JoinIn campaign, run by comedian Sarah Millican – aimed at people on their own over Christmas who would like to connect with others. With so many Internet-based groups, activities and forums available, you’re bound to find something online where you can connect with people with similar interests.

Where to turn for support and advice

If you’re feeling lonely or low over Christmas, it’s useful to know where you can turn to for more support.

The Silver Line

The Silver Line provides a helpline for older people, available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. 

  • Helpline: 0800 470 80 90
  • You may also like to sign up for regular telephone calls with a volunteer matched to you, through the Age UK and Silver Line telephone friendship service

Mind

Mind is a mental health charity offering an information and signposting service via their Infoline. You can contact them from 9am-6pm up until the 24 December, and then from the 29 December.


Mind also have lots of resources available on their website, including practical tools to help yourself in a crisis. Click the yellow ‘Get help now’ button on their website for more information.

 

Samaritans

If you need someone to talk to, you can call the Samaritans helpline any time of day or night, any day of the year, including Christmas.

  • Call 116 123

Shout

Shout is a free, confidential text messaging support service for anyone struggling to cope. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258

YoungMinds

YoungMinds is a charity supporting young people with their mental health. They offer a helpline for parents worried about their children, and a text service for young people looking for help and support.

  • Parents helpline: 0808 802 5544
  • YoungMinds Crisis Messenger: text YM to 85258 for urgent help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Fatmata Kamara
Specialist Nurse Adviser at Bupa UK

    • Nature and mental health. Mind. www.mind.org.uk, published May 2018
    • How can I manage loneliness? Mind. www.mind.org.uk, published July 2019
    • Local restriction tiers: what you need to know. Department of Health and Social Care. www.gov.uk, published 19 December 2020
    • Have a chat – and help tackle loneliness. Be More Us. The Campaign to End Loneliness. bemoreus.org.uk, published November 2020

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