By Kat McIntosh, Manager of Global Peer Support at Mental Health America
Many people experience challenges associated with loneliness and isolation during the holiday season. The COVID-19 pandemic increases the risk of loneliness and depression at this time. Over 10% of people report feeling extremely lonely closer to the winter holidays.
There are many reasons someone can experience loneliness right now. Many can experience survivor’s guilt as they cope with the loss of loved ones. Additionally, not everyone feels loved and supported. The holidays can often bring many triggers and negative emotions.
If you are experiencing more feelings of loneliness right now, know that it’s ok.
Try to be kind to yourself as you navigate these feelings.
It’s ok to feel angry or confused about how to cope with these big feelings. Offer yourself expressions of love and kindness.
Check-in with yourself.
Now might be a good time to check in with yourself about what you need. You can call a friend or family member. You can also take a walk or practice mindfulness.
Families can have many forms or traditions.
There are different ways to have a family. Chosen families are family groups created by choice rather than by biology or legality. It’s ok to spend time with someone you consider your chosen family. You can also begin creating new family traditions.
Attend a support group.
Peer support allows you to find someone who shares your lived experience. This lived experience can be a mental health diagnosis. It can also include age, gender, sexual orientation, race, language, or disability. You can find a list of peer support groups on Mental Health America’s new IAMNOTALONE site. Visit mhantional.org/IAMNOTALONE.
The Center also has an in person (drop-in) Teen Forum group that meets every Monday (starts back on January 10th).