As humans, we aren’t meant to be solitary and exist on our own. Nearly one million older people say they feel lonelier at Christmas. However, loneliness can affect anyone from any walk of life and, in 2010, the Mental Health Foundation found that loneliness was a bigger concern for young people than the elderly.
Many of us suffer from loneliness, especially if we have been through bereavement, a relationship breakdown, have moved to a new area or suffer from physical or mental health challenges.
Christmas can be a very difficult time for those who are on their own or estranged from family. People often feel that there is a pressure to be happy and we are bombarded with images of smiling couples and close-knit families by the media.
What can you do if you’re on your own?
If you haven’t chosen to spend Christmas alone and you’d like some company, have a think about what you might like to do. You might decide to curl up with your favourite snacks and movies or go for a walk in the frosty air. Here is some inspiration:
- If you live on your own, you can visit the Community Christmas website for older people or meetup.com and find details of community Christmas events taking place in your area
- If you have a Twitter account, you can take part in Sarah Millican’s annual #JoinIn Campaign
- You could consider volunteering at a local soup kitchen or for a befriending service. Volunteering can be a great way to meet like-minded people and is incredibly rewarding. Visit Do-it.org to see where your nearest volunteering opportunity is
- If you know other people who are also spending Christmas alone you could suggest that you go out for a meal as a group or organise a get-together where each person brings part of Christmas lunch
- Alternatively, if you can afford to, why not book a holiday and go away somewhere for a few days? This will give you something to look forward to and new festive memories to look back on. There’s an app called Tripr which is the social travel app, allowing you to connect with like-minded travellers.
Christmas on your own, particularly the first one, can be really hard. If you are finding it daunting, have a chat to a friend or family member and let them know how you feel.
What can I do to support someone who is lonely?
Don’t forget that some people may prefer to spend Christmas on their own. Keep any offer casual – you don’t want to put anyone under pressure. It’s very important to only make an offer if you genuinely mean it so if you’d rather not invite someone over then don’t make excuses for not doing so.
- If you’re having a Christmas party, think about inviting people in your neighbourhood or others who you know are going to be on their own – the more the merrier
- You could invite someone out for a walk or a trip to the local carol singing event
- It can be tough to spend Christmas Day surrounded by someone else’s family all opening presents, so consider inviting someone for part of the day, like Christmas Lunch, or for a drink in the evening
- You could drop a gift round to someone’s house part-way through the day or just pop in for a cuppa
- If you know an older person who is lonely, you could offer to help them find local community events over Christmas. Community Christmas has listings of events for lonely older people happening across the UK.
Support at Christmas
If you’re worried about loneliness at Christmas, you can find out our helpline opening hours and where to get support on our Christmas support post. It’s completely free to get in touch with us if you work (or have worked) in the automotive industry, or you are dependent on someone who is.