We’ve all been there before. That feeling of loneliness, when it feels like nobody cares and you’re all alone in the world, is especially tough to endure over the holidays. It’s a heavy feeling you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, so why not lift it off the shoulders of someone you love?
If you have a loved one whom you don’t get to see very often or who frequently struggles with feelings of loneliness, there are plenty of ways to help ease their loneliness and make their season brighter, one check-in at a time. Here are a few ways to let them know you care, any time of year:
Send a handwritten letter or card.
In this age of email and texting, there’s something special about getting a handwritten note in the mail. It doesn’t have to be creative or fancy, but it shows that you took the time to sit down and write your thoughts, which will mean a great deal to the person who receives it.
If your loved one is feeling lonely, consider sending them a card or letter on occasion to let them know that you are thinking of them. You could even include photos of yourself or your holiday decorations to help them feel closer to you.
Make a phone call or video call.
Hearing another’s voice or seeing their face can be comforting when you feel lonely. So set up a regular time to chat with your loved one, such as once a week or month.
Whether you catch up on each other’s news or exchange your favorite holiday memories or recipes, sometimes, a mere listening ear is enough to brighten someone’s day. So let them talk about whatever they want without judgment. And consider using a video chat service like Skype or Facetime to see each other’s faces while you chat.
Spend time with them
Spending time with someone lonely can make a big difference in their life. Even if you can’t do it all the time, try to spend at least some time with them regularly or include them in activities you enjoy. You could go for coffee, a walk, or sit and chat. What matters is that they feel like they are part of something and have friends who care about them.
Send a care package.
A care package full of treats and goodies is always appreciated, especially during the holiday season! Fill it with things your loved one enjoys, like their favorite candy or snacks, tea or coffee, books or magazines, or even items from their hometown that they can’t get where they live now. Remember to include a personal note letting them know how much you think of them.
Help them connect with others.
If you know someone lonely, one of the best things you can do is help them find other friends – whether in person or online. This could involve introducing them to people you know or helping them find social or community activities they might enjoy. The more connections and encounters they have, the less lonely they will feel.
Plan ahead for future holidays.
To combat holiday loneliness, plan for future holidays or get-togethers when you can see each other in person. Talk about what you’re looking forward to doing together, and make specific plans to help the time pass more quickly. By staying in touch year-round, holidays and day-to-day life won’t seem so lonely because you’ll feel close to each other.
Make sure they are okay. Assure them that they will be.
If you know someone lonely, it’s important to check in occasionally to ensure they are okay. This could mean a simple weekly text to say hello and ask how they are.
If you are worried about someone going through a tough time or suffering from emotional, behavioral, or cognitive difficulties, don’t hesitate to reach out and see if they need help. Assure them that they aren’t alone and that there are people who care about their well-being and happiness.
We know how difficult life can be – let alone the lonely holiday season – when you or a loved one face mental health issues. If you care for someone – near or far – who you know is prone to feelings of loneliness, use these tips to help stay connected with them, and reach out to us to learn how our compassionate team at Montana Psychiatry can help.