As the year draws to a close, it’s often a time for celebrations and reflection. Although this is a joyous time for many people, it can sometimes bring out some negative emotions and feel isolating, especially if you're away from home.
Coping with loneliness and depression during the festive season as an expat can be influenced by many things. Being away from family and friends, spending time in a different environment than what you’re used to or losing someone important to you can have a huge impact on your mental health, particularly at this time of year.
With help from our team of experts at Aspris, we’ve provided some helpful tips on dealing with loneliness during the holidays.
What is loneliness & what does loneliness feel like?
Loneliness is often closely linked to depression. When the feeling of isolation isn’t addressed, the chances of becoming depressed are increased. If you’re feeling lonely, you might feel down or distressed and feel you have nobody to talk to.
If you have persisting negative feelings and feel you are unable to build a supportive network, establish the lifestyle you would like and feel your quality of life is affected by this, you are not alone. Below are some common symptoms of depression, which many people who feel lonely experience:
- Feeling down, unhappy or sad most of the time
- Feeling worthless, unloved, or that you do not matter to anyone
- Being unable to enjoy your time or take pleasure in as many things as before
- Feeling tired or exhausted most of the time
- Having difficulties with your sleep, such as finding it hard to fall asleep, having interrupted sleep or waking up early in the morning
- Changing your eating pattern (overeating, loss of appetite)
- Becoming irritable most of the time, and easily breaking into tears
- Having a hard time focusing on work or studies, which is affecting your performance
How to overcome loneliness
1. Join community groups or volunteer
The festive season is often a time of charitable acts of kindness. If you’re experiencing loneliness during the holidays, why not see if there’s a local group you can volunteer with? These activities can help you meet new people and feel a sense of worth as you help others in need.
You may also be able to find a group of people who enjoy the same hobbies as you such as reading, sports or crafts. Joining a community of like-minded people where you can take part in activities is a great way to make friends and enjoy yourself, reducing the chances of you feeling alone at Christmas.
2. Protect yourself from online comparisons
It’s easy to ‘doom scroll’ through social media, comparing yourself to the happy faces you see. If you’re feeling lonely at Christmas, remember that people often only post the highlights and many people are going through their own stress and struggles, which often aren’t shown on social media. Be mindful over the festive season not to get caught up in comparing yourself to others.
Instead, social media can be a place to find communities and groups of people who can help support you. You may wish to reach out to a trusted friend or family member and have a meaningful conversation over this time, or even reach out to an online community for support. In the UK there is a campaign called #JoinIn for people who are alone or not looking forward to Christmas Day. By using #JoinIn on X (formerly Twitter) you can find others who may be feeling similar to you.
3. Talk to someone
Sometimes people may not be aware of how you’re feeling. It’s always good to open up and let those you trust know that you’re struggling. This can make a huge difference and start your journey towards feeling better.
Our friendly mental health care professionals from across the globe are experienced in helping people who go through loneliness and depression to get their lives back on track. We’re here to listen and support you.
If you’d like to speak to one of our friendly team of experts about loneliness, depression or any of our mental health services, please contact us today on (+971) 4 385 4493 for our Dubai clinic, or (+971) 2 651 8111 for our Abu Dhabi clinic. Alternatively, please click here to make an online enquiry.
Alongside our adult services, we also have specialist and dedicated teams of child therapists, highly experienced in supporting a wide range of mental health, development and behavioural needs. Find out more about our child and adolescent services here.