Around 2 million older people are expecting to feel lonely this Holiday season – with almost a third being older widows and widowers.
Winter can be a tough time for people - short days, dark nights, and cold, often wet weather make it more difficult to get outside. These challenges combined with Covid-19 restrictions mean that chance encounters - such as catching up with neighbours on your street or a friendly chat in a supermarket aisle - are less likely to be happening right now, yet these small acts can make a big difference to those who are almost always on their own, or feeling lonely.
At the end of November, the government updated the nation on their December plans to let people form a Christmas Bubble over the festive days of 23rd December to 27th December. This means that in your bubble you will be able to spend time together in private homes, including second homes and caravans, to attend places of worship, or meet in a public outdoor place.
However, they also added that you should not meet socially with friends and family you do not live with in your home or garden unless they are part of your Christmas bubble.
This means that those without family, who solely rely on spending time with friends through the festive season, may find themselves feeling even more isolated than before.
So what can we do to support people who are lonely this Christmas?
Making sure we're staying mindful of those around us and who you know won't have plans this Christmas. Is there a way you can include them in your bubble? Or perhaps schedule a phone call or online video chat to assist them through a difficult time.
Being able to offer a listening pair of ears can make a world of difference for those without someone to talk to. Try to offer an empathetic ear without judgement to enable those to open up.
Do something they love
Is there an activity this person enjoys that could be suggested? Do they love to read? Play games? Watch movies? - Could you be the reminder for them of checking in on where they're at currently with their own self-care?
A lonely person needs optimistic support. Negativity, sadness, and loneliness can be easily spread. Make sure that you’re a positive influence to others. This can be a lot of work, especially if you’re not a naturally cheerful person, but it can make a world of difference to those needing a glimpse of optimism.
Offer Professional Support
At Therapy Centre Services, we have sessions available with our counsellors via telephone and Zoom for any clients in the UK. However if you feel someone needs to talk to someone straight away, especially during the Christmas period, Samaritans are available 24/7 - 365 days a year for free by calling: 116 123 from any phone.
How can we support ourselves who are spending Christmas alone this year?
Read a Book
Perhaps there's been a book you've been wanting to read for a long time, but never felt like you have the time? Or maybe you know of some books that have been sat on your bookshelf for a while, waiting to be enjoyed.
Binge a show
With so many streaming platforms available, libraries of media is literally at your finger tips. With many seasons of favourite TV shows and long forgotten movie favourites. It's easy to find yourself a binge worthy playlist you can lose yourself in!
Getting yourself moving can have many perks. Not only releasing those endorphins and scientifically proven to increase your mood, but doing something good for yourself physically and mentally can be extremely uplifting! There are many free workouts available on Youtube with a variety of difficulty levels to ease your way in.
Sometimes when we hear Self-care we imagine a bubble bath and face mask, but ultimately, Self-care is whatever tops you up! Is there a hobby you used to enjoy as a child? Maybe an interest you parked as a young adult? Whatever you enjoy that can uplift you is your Self-care.
Some examples of Self-care; Draw, Journal, Cuddle with a pet, Crafting, Paint, Sing, Wrap up in a cozy blanket, Colour in an adult colouring book, Make a photo book, Drink a hot drink mindfully, Have a cyber declutter, Make a vision board, or Organise a corner or a drawer.
Listen to some music (Festive tracks not required!)
Listening to music is a proven mood booster, especially your favourite genres! With Spotify offering free streaming with an ever growing library, today's the day to turn it up and dance like no ones watching!
Is there a meal you've always loved? Perhaps a winter warmer dish that you loved as a child or something special you've tried before? With recipe's galore online, now is the time to unleash your inner chef and cook something tasty! Another mentally uplifting reward too when you get to feel proud at making something for yourself. And if it doesn't turn out okay? You can try again!
Zoom meetings / Party's / Quiz
2020 has certainly stepped up almost everyone's game with technology awareness. With even elderly relatives hopping onto video chats with ease, connecting with people far and wide has been made simple! Due to difficulty in travel and financial struggles, many are opting for a more "digital Christmas" this year. Maybe you can schedule a catch-up with some friends or family over the Christmas break?
Play an online game with someone
Using technology to connect with others can give us the illusion we are with someone else psychologically, even if we are physically apart. This feeling can be generated without even seeing the other person, like playing an online game with someone else. Think: Animal Crossing, Mario Kart, or even something simple, like Words with Friends.
Focus on Mental Health
Without the regular distractions of work or the hustle and bustle of day to day processes. Now is the peaceful time that can be utilised as a way to focus on your own mental health.
A book recommendation from ourselves here at TCS is Dr Emma Hepburns – A Toolkit for Modern Life; This book is filled with practical tools for taking care of your mental health, self-care, and self-esteem!
We also have further resources such as podcasts, books, and Youtube videos here: www.therapycentreservices.com/resources
If you are looking to focus on your mental health this year, please don't hesitate to complete our self-referral form here: www.therapycentreservices.com/selfreferral
Sessions are completely confidential and available via Zoom or Telephone with NO waiting lists.
Please share this article or our self-referral form for those you feel would benefit from some extra support during this difficult time.