Day 17. Christmas & Loneliness
Help Yourself or Others who may be Feeling Lonely this Christmas
According to research, 17% of the UK feel more lonely at Christmas than any other time of year. Loneliness is a feeling many of us have or will experience in our lives, but for some prolonged or overwhelming feelings of loneliness can become harder to cope with around Christmas time. While loneliness is generally attributed to the elderly, people of any age can be affected by loneliness, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. It is in fact the case that those aged 16-24 are now the most likely group to be experiencing feelings of loneliness.
So, when Christmas is about coming together, why do some of us feel more lonely than ever? The images portrayed of Christmas can lead to unattainable expectations for our own lives, with big families sitting around a table full of food, Christmas parties full of family and friends, adverts with couples giving one-another extravagant gifts, Children waking up to gifts galore under the tree. These portrayals of Christmas for many can result in feelings of inadequacy about our own relationships or lives.
Loneliness comes in all shapes and sizes. You may be isolated and not feel alone, or you may be in a room full of people but feel completely by yourself. There does not always have to be an explanation for our feelings of loneliness, and lots of factors may come into play resulting in these feelings.
As we do get older, Christmas can also be a lonely time remembering what it once was, and all the loved ones we no longer see on Christmas day. For those living in care homes or with families that have moved away, Christmas can be a dreaded, lonely time.
But What Can We Do?
An advert released in November by Charlies Bar in Northern Ireland, demonstrates the impact that engaging with those who may be lonely can have this Christmas:
‘There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met’ (W. B. Yeats) 💫 Filming & Editing: @aoifeteague1 #christmasad #christmasadvert #christmasadvert2023 #christmasadvert23 #christmasadvertisement #christmas2023 #northernireland #northernirelandtiktok #northernirelandfyp #irishbar #irishpub #christmaspub♬ People Help the People – Birdy
So this Christmas, notice those around you. Are there people sitting on their own while you are out for a festive drink? Is your neighbour by themselves on Christmas eve? Does the lady down the street who lives alone have plans for Christmas? Do your work colleagues have family they will be seeing at Christmas? By noticing people and talking to them, we show we care, and automatically help them feel a little less lonely – even if it just for a few moments. Kindness costs nothing, and you might just make someone’s Christmas.
There are also services available, if you or someone you know is facing Christmas alone this year. Or, if you just want to help:
Get in touch with Supporting Older People on 01423 531490. They are a registered charity in North Yorkshire aimed at alleviating loneliness and isolation, often experienced by older people living alone. They offer a befriending scheme, tea & talk, and a dining out club.
If you, or someone you know could be feeling isolated or lonely this Christmas, you can refer them (or yourself) to the Marmalade Trust for a ‘doorstep festive social visit’.
The Royal Voluntary Service are connecting people with a ‘Festive Spread’ for vulnerable people facing Christmas alone this year. Give a gift of Christmas dinner, or a visit to a patient in hospital for just £5.
The Age UK Telephone Friendship Service gives older people the vital gift of a weekly phone call
The HOPELINE247 provided by PAPYRUS for young people is there to support you if you are worried about someone, or are struggling yourself. Their helpline is not limited to feelings of loneliness and you can reach out to them about anything you are struggling with, call them on 0800 068 41 41.
The NHS Website has additional guidance on what to do if you are feeling lonely
Be kind, look after yourself & give people your time this Christmas.
If you are worried about yourself or someone else call 111, or 999 in the case of an emergency.