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Coping with loneliness at Christmas

Siski Green / 03 December 2014

Around 500,000 people aged over 60 spend Christmas alone, according to Age UK. Follow our tips to making the best of things at this time of year.

Man dressed as Father Christmas drinking a cocktail in the sun
It might help to be somewhere warm for Christmas

Loneliness is described as being when you feel you’d like to have more social contact than you have or feel you’re lacking in the kind of social contact you crave. So even if you are invited to lots of parties over the holiday season, you can still feel incredibly lonely. Thankfully there are things you can do to avoid that feeling of isolation this Christmas.

Plan your time alone

Imagine your ideal day alone: perhaps you’d have breakfast in bed, spend the morning reading, you might visit a nearby park or see a film at the cinema, or perhaps you’d enjoy painting all day or researching online for a holiday to book for the following year. Now try to do exactly that on Christmas Day. Make it your day to do exactly what you like – you’ve got no one to please but yourself.

Don’t accept all invitations

This mind sound counterintuitive but sometimes going to other people’s Christmas events can make the loss you feel even more painful. Like going to someone else’s birthday party it can simply highlight the fact that you can’t enjoy the same thing they are – being with close friends and family. If that’s you, simply decline the invitation.

Exercise to feel better

Exercise can make a huge difference to how you feel and yet many of us don’t even think of doing it during the Christmas holidays. Being lonely and lethargic feels a lot worse than being lonely after an energetic workout session. Being outside is especially beneficial as you’ll absorb some sunlight (even through those clouds!), which can help lift your mood.

Help others feel less lonely

You might think you’re the only person in your neighbourhood who feels lonely at Christmas but there are thousands of people seeking company over the holiday period. Invite a neighbour over for mince pies and a film, organise a pre-Christmas street party, or ask around to see if anyone would like to go on a Christmas day walk for charity.

Get away from it all

Half of the world celebrates Christmas in the heat and so if your Christmas memories are connected to cold winter nights spent with loved ones, it might help to be somewhere warm. Almost anywhere in the southern hemisphere will provide you with a summery holiday in December but closer to home you can try Cyprus or Morocco where daytime temps are around 20-21 degrees.

Do some voluntary work

Thousands of people in the UK help out in soup kitchens or similar locations during the Christmas period. It’s a wonderful way to avoid feeling lonely, keeping busy and meeting others. Try exploring where you can find charity events and groups near you, with date-specific information.

Turn the TV off

The television might seem like your only friend at times but turning it off and doing something else instead could be key to avoiding loneliness. What would you do if didn’t watch TV so often? Perhaps you’d read more and you could join a local book club or join in on online book discussions; maybe you’d feel more inclined to go out and seek new contact with others; or maybe you’d use that time to exercise which would make you feel healthier and happier overall.

Use technology to connect with loved ones

Set up a Skype or FaceTime session with loved ones who are far away, if you can. Or ask family members to make a short video for you so you can watch it on Christmas day. Make a video yourself to send to family or friends or to upload to Facebook. The funnier the better.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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