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How to Combat Loneliness During the Holidays

A senior woman plays the piano with her granddaughter.

Feeling lonely is a common experience as we age, especially as life changes, children grow up, friends move away, and we grieve the loss of loved ones. These feelings of loneliness can intensify during the holiday season, when we’re reminded of past celebrations and the people we miss. The holidays can be a difficult time of year for those dealing with sadness and grief, and it can also be a challenging time for older adults who live alone.

Coping with Loneliness During the Holidays

If you’re experiencing loneliness this time of year, you’re not alone — many people cope with a range of emotions during the holidays. Even if you’re surrounded by friends and family, it’s possible to feel emotionally distant or lonely in a room full of people.

Finding coping strategies and ways to stay socially active can keep holiday loneliness at bay. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of finding new ways to connect with others by engaging in conversations and sharing experiences. Choosing to live in a senior living community like Atlantic Shores can spark your social life and open the door to new and unexpected ways to find joy in your everyday life.

Here are some ways to strengthen social ties and cope with loneliness during the holidays:

  • Acknowledge your emotions. Be real with yourself instead of downplaying your emotions or bottling up how you’re feeling. Allow yourself to experience those feelings and talk to someone else about it.
  • Keep your expectations in check. Let go of the expectation for a picture-perfect holiday celebration and avoid comparing your situation to others. In reality, the holidays can be tense, messy and unpredictable — and that’s OK.
  • Give it time. Feelings of loneliness come and go like waves — and these waves often hit harder during the holidays. But eventually these feelings will fade.
  • Be kind to yourself. Do something special for yourself, whether that’s treating yourself to a spa day, watching your favorite movie, or curling up with a good book.
  • Get connected. Something as simple as saying hello to neighbors, exchanging holiday cards, dining with a friend, or calling someone you haven’t spoken with for a while can help you feel more connected and less lonely.
  • Create new traditions. It’s normal to find yourself reminiscing about past holiday celebrations and wishing you could go back. But you can still find joy in the small moments of today when you open yourself up to new possibilities. Volunteer your time to help others in need, watch holiday movies with friends, or make holiday treats to share with neighbors.

The Link Between Loneliness and Health Risks

Loneliness can have a serious impact on health and quality of life, especially for older adults. Research suggests that loneliness and social isolation may be linked to serious health risks such as an increased risk of dementia, heart disease, and stroke, as well as higher rates of depression and anxiety. Older adults are more likely to report feeling lonely, and approximately one-quarter of Americans age 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated, according to a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Strengthen Your Social Ties at Atlantic Shores

Where you live matters, because your community and neighborhood can provide opportunities for healthy social engagement. At Atlantic Shores, the days are full with activities where you can meet others with shared interests. We make it our mission to support residents in meeting new friends and staying connected with loved ones during the holidays and all year round.

We invite you to explore our 100-acre waterfront campus and resort-style living in Virginia Beach, VA. Discover an impressive variety of floor plans to match your needs, including spacious apartment homes and attached or detached one-story villas. The holiday season is a perfect time of year to visit our community to see the decorations and festivities. Join us for an upcoming event or schedule a personal visit to see how our community brings people together during the holidays.