Changing job, moving to a new area, death of loved ones, all these things can bring loneliness in its wake particularly on Sundays and at Christmas when families and/or old friends tend to meet up and churchgoers go to church etc.
I think that loneliness has almost become a ‘social stigma’ something best not discussed, it implies that one doesn’t have the capacity to make friends. Nonsense, most people have at least one or two friends but one can’t be with them all the time and research also indicates that soon it will be the norm for many of us to live alone which may or may not bring feelings of isolation.
I know a bit about feeling lonely. I used to be in the Variety, travelling by train on my own on Sundays and staying if different digs each week. No one in the audience would have guessed we barely knew each other.
I felt lonely as young mum in a new area, but it was easier to make friends at the school gates. Later on as a single parent and when the ’empty nest syndrome’ kicked in, despite the fact I was studying and working full time.
Being a carer is lonely. I know people who Care on a daily basis. I never called myself a carer, but I was to some extent when my mother moved to be near me after my father died. I was working as a freelance by then, we had projects in common, we did fun things together, family members loved her and visited her. But in later years it became a curious mixture of intimacy and social isolation for both of us.
So for my ‘tuppence worth’ as my old granny used to say and with knowledge gleaned from several years as a therapist in later life –
The key to survival at Christmas is to plan ahead.
- Have something special for the bath or shower, so you can take pleasure in the smell, warm water, feeling refreshed.
- Wash your hair, massage your scalp as you do so.
- At Christmas day put a few baubles in the window to cheer yourself along but also for people passing by.
- plant some bulbs or a shrub in the garden, growing things is very therapeutic.
- Plan to wear something you like, a colour that renews the spirit.
- Buy enjoyable meals – or the ingredients for same, plan to prepare and eat them at intervals preferably near a window where you can watch the world go by. Scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast?
- Find out CD’s of your favourite music
- Get the ‘Radio Times’ and decide what would be good to watch – mark with a pen in advance rather than resorting to wall to wall TV. But if the latter option makes you feel you are in good company, go for it.
- Keep warm – if you are hard up, get yourself a soft throw to curl up in, the kind of hot water bottle that warms up in the microwave.
- Keep your Serotonin levels high, wrap up warm and go for a walk.
- If you feel brave enough, have a glass of wine or a coffee on your own in a local pub they won’t mind if you are, or need to be an alcohol free person! If you look around you may be surprised to find there are other people on their own.
- Get to the library before Christmas and choose a book you have enjoyed in the past or a book you would not usually read.
- Clear out a cupboard and feel virtuous.
- Fill a black bag full of things you don’t need for the charity shop.
- Brainstorm – which means you draw a ring in the centre of a sheet of paper and draw lines coming out from it like a sun, on each line put as many positive things that happened from the last week.
- Buy some wool and needles, plan to knit a scarf in the day.
- Spend time doing your nails.
- Think of something you would like to learn, see if there is a free lesson on youtube.
- Buy some gold stars and write down every single minor achievement this past year.
- Write a poem, a story, start a memoir.
- Feed the birds or stroke a cat or hug a teddybear
- Consider trying a new recipe for the evening meal, something you would not usually bother with – just for yourself. Lay the table, flowers, pour a glass of your favourite tipple.
- Check your TV choices, or find a film on youtube.
- Wind down, with some more music, a night-time drink.
- Congratulate yourself for being so resourceful. Christmas can be a sad time for many people, it’s unreasonable to expect all and everyone to be jolly about it all day. Give yourself permission to meditate, have a nap, consider inviting someone over, just for a short time, a coffee or tea and cake in the afternoon. Or, if you feel really energetic, try donating some time to a Christmas appeal and find a group who need a hand. Happy Sundays – Happy Christmas