Since the beginning of time, we’ve known that it is not good for us to be alone. People have naturally gathered in groups for the purposes of safety, relationships, hunting and gathering, effectively establishing well-bonded communities. Even during western expansion, the pioneers relied on neighbors and towns for opportunities for meaningful relationships.
While today’s world is much closer geographically and electronically, it is easier than ever to feel cut off from people. Feelings of isolation feed into depression and anxiety. And the more depressed we feel, the more difficult it is to reach out to others to establish meaningful connections that will help alleviate feelings of isolation. Sometimes it seems impossible to break this cycle of isolation.
The holidays can be especially difficult. Not only does it feel like everyone else is having a good time, which shines a spotlight on our feelings of isolation, but it also is a time when we often take on too much and over-commit. These negative feelings and demands may leave us feeling more drained than ever, giving us little incentive to expand our social sphere and care for our feelings of isolation and depression.
Others, however, don’t seem to have any problems during the holidays. They float through their days spreading cheer and happiness, accomplishing a pile of tasks, and eventually find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. These social butterflies make it look easy even though it may not be. But there’s hope for the rest of us! There are some things we can do to help nurture our social connections and find balance in our lives during this busy and stressful time of year.
While a thousand things demand our attention during the holidays, people are the most important. Nurturing your relationships with family and friends might be the most important thing you can do during this busy time of year. Make a list of people you want to connect with during the holidays and reach out to plan something! You’ll be glad you joined in, once you decide to do it. Your feelings of isolation will dissipate, and you’ll regain some lost energy.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Attend a party together
- Send a card
- Make a phone call
- Send a series of cheerful texts
- Send a Facebook message
- Drive around together to view the lights at night
- Get together for a holiday movie night
- Skype or video chat each other
- Play a sport together
- Host an informal game night
- Volunteer together to help a charity
- Go for a wintery walk together
- Grab a coffee together
Engage Someone Else
If being the one to organize a get-together or initiate an activity sounds too intense for you, ask your friend or family member to be the one to choose an outing from this list. Take advantage of someone else’s ability to start something fun, and then join in. People who care about you will be happy to include you and you can benefit from their energy and positive attitudes.
The holidays are a great time for nurturing social connections! However, it is important to also take some down time for ourselves so that we do not feel overwhelmed at this already stressful time of year. It is ok to say no to a party if you are feeling like you need down time. However, it is also a great time of the year to spend some extra time with your loved ones! Finding a balance is key, especially if you suffer from depression and anxiety around this time of year.