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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Holidays: Being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely

What do you mean when you say that being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely? Loneliness is a choice. Each of us has options and choices by taking risks to become involved in the holiday festivities. Just because you are single during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.

The Holiday season is a lonely time for many people in our community. What are some of the common reasons for the loneliness?
• Divorce. Perhaps a divorce has created a situation where a single person is alone during the holidays due to visitation agreements.
• Death. The loss of a spouse can be a terrible time for grief and loneliness, especially if it is the first year that you have not been with your loved one during the holiday
• Past memories. Many people feel lonely or sad because of old memories from their childhoods. Perhaps holidays remind people of times of abandonment, dysfunctional family gatherings, or times in which they felt hurt or abused
• Not being close to family members. Distance from relatives or friends can cause great sadness and loneliness for many people. This may be especially true for people who have just moved away from their support systems or families.

If you feel lonely during the holidays, what are some suggestions for beating depression?
• Do something for someone else. Volunteer. Work at the Salvation Army and serve dinners to the homeless. Do something for a senior and spend time with them during the holidays. Buy gifts for those in need, or make donations to Toys for Tots or the many community charities.
• Look up an old friend and re-establish a relationship. Use this time to rekindle friendships and avoid isolation.
• Accept holiday invitations. It may be difficult to go to parties or get-togethers during the holidays, but being proactive about joining others will help beat depression.
• Attend a holiday group festivity at your church or synagogue. Most religious affiliations have holiday services, gatherings or other activities which foster togetherness.
• Watch the television, read the newspaper, check out church fliers and discover some holiday activities within the community. Go to the group sing-a-longs, go with co-workers to the Festival of Lights, or discover some new activities you can do with others.
• Talk to your support system about feelings of loneliness. Stuffing your feelings and keeping them locked inside will only lead to more depression.
• If you find yourself persistently blue or depressed, contact a licensed mental health counselor for assistance.

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