Community Psychiatry’s Leela Magavi, M.D. was featured in Greatist discussing how to feel more fulfilled this holiday season. 

Alone for the Holidays? Here Are Some Ways You Can Make Your Season Feel More Fruitful

By: Sarah Fielding | October 28, 2020

Let’s get this out of the way first: Being alone over the holidays doesn’t mean you’re unloved or failing at life. Connecting with people in person is tough right now, and seeing loved ones — especially those who live far away — might not be an option. So, as the holidays inch closer, it’s understandable if you’re anticipating feeling lonely.

As a society, we’ve gotten used to the nostalgic images of holidays being full of family, food, travel, and quality time. If the picture changes or one of the aspects is missing, something feels off.

For many people, holidays have a tendency to dredge up past sadness.

“Individuals often have time away from work and fewer distractions and may begin to ruminate about lost relationships or loved ones who have passed away,” says Dr. Leela R. Magavi, psychiatrist and regional medical director at Community Psychiatry. “Post-traumatic symptoms may emerge or worsen around the holidays and exacerbate feelings of loneliness.”

Magavi stresses that spending this time alone isn’t something to blame yourself for. Being alone for the holidays is simply a statement about your environment, not your ability or your worth. Let’s look at some actionable steps you can take to feel fulfilled during the holidays.

13 ways to get the most out of your holidays alone

1. Treat yourself in a memorable or nostalgic way

As long as you’re not spending outside your budget or doing something inadvisable, it’s perfectly fine to treat yourself this holiday season.

It could be by diving into a book you’ve been eager to read, taking a weekend getaway to your favorite spot, or taking a day off to relax. Taking care of yourself can go a long way toward protecting your emotional health.

“Self-compassion, gratitude, and positive affirmations help improve self-esteem and decrease feelings of loneliness longitudinally,” says Magavi.

10. Start a gratitude journal for the holidays

There’s something undeniably freeing about releasing your thoughts onto paper. Magavi recommends creating short journal entries daily with letters to yourself and complimentary messages.

“I advise everyone to keep journaling fluid, fun, and creative,” she says. “Individuals can rejoice about any small victory. Some individuals even draw pictures linked to the content and share their journal and gratitude with others.”

11. Share your appreciation of the people in your life

When was the last time you thanked your barista for always adding an extra shot in your coffee?

“Writing thank you letters to loved ones or simply thanking others could release neurochemicals responsible for happiness, motivation, and the alleviation of stress,” says Magavi.

It will make you feel good too. “Thanking others also allows the one giving gratitude to appreciate the small things in life and live life mindfully,” she says.

Takeaway: What if it persists?

Implementing these tips is a great way to get out of a solo holiday funk. But if your feelings of loneliness persist or get worse after the holidays, consider talking to a mental health professional.

“Individuals with chronic loneliness may experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, which impair their functionality. In such cases, I always advise individuals to receive professional help,” says Magavi. “This allows them to identify their anxiety pattern and tackle this by reframing thinking and partaking in healthy behaviors.”

Click here to read the entire article on Greatist.

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