Mental Health

Alone at Christmas: 6 things to do if you’re feeling lonely this festive season

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Lauren Geall
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A woman on Zoom at Christmas

Whether you’re struggling with being separated from family or are spending Christmas alone, these activities will give you the chance to connect with others.

While Boris Johnson has ruled out putting any new Covid-19 restrictions in place ahead of Christmas Day, there are still plenty of people up and down the country planning for a second Christmas away from family and friends.

Whether you’re self-isolating because you’ve caught Covid-19 or are choosing to stay away from vulnerable family members, having to spend Christmas alone can be pretty tough. Isolation is a lonely experience on its own, but at a time traditionally reserved for loved ones, spending time away from others can feel particularly hard.

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However, being alone on Christmas doesn’t have to be a wholly lonely experience. While it’s only normal to go through some feelings of isolation and sadness, there are things you can do to make the experience a little easier – including joining in with one of the virtual events and activities that will be taking place across the UK this Christmas. Attending yet another virtual gathering may seem less than exciting at this point (who thought we’d ever have another Zoom Christmas?), but it’s a great way to structure your day and give you something to do if you end up feeling low.

With this in mind, we’ve put together this guide to all the things you can do this Christmas if you’re feeling lonely. And once you’re done, make sure to check out our guide to the best solo Christmas tradition ideas to give you some more inspiration, too. 

  • Take part in Sarah Millican’s #JoinIn

    Every year, comedian Sarah Millican hosts #JoinIn – a virtual conversation for people feeling lonely on Christmas.

    Whether you’re spending Christmas Day alone or simply aren’t in the festive spirit this year, taking part in the #JoinIn conversation is a brilliant way to connect with people all over the world and receive or give support.

    You don’t need any special reason to take part – be it sharing your experience or simply chatting about what chocolates you’re eating, there’s space for everyone in this worldwide conversation. 

  • Join the Church of England’s ‘carols and chat’ event

    The Church of England is putting on a range of virtual events for people who are unable to be with their loved ones over Christmas.

    For those who are isolating and want to attend a church service, they’ll be hosting a number of online Christmas services – including a midnight mass event livestreamed from St Paul’s Cathedral.

    People who aren’t religious but still fancy a sing-song can also take part in the ‘carols and chat’ YouTube livestream that’s taking place at 3.30pm on Christmas Day – it’ll consist of a selection of traditional carols, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Christmas message and the chance to talk to others via the YouTube chat feature. 

  • Join Mind’s Side by Side community

    If you’re struggling with your mental health and want to talk about it with people who understand, the Side by Side community from mental health charity Mind is a great place to start.

    Available for all 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Side by Side provides a safe place for you to speak openly about your experiences or provide support for others going through a difficult time.

    It’s free to join and is a brilliant resource if you need to chat without fear of judgement.

  • Play board games online

    A woman playing board games online with family
    Playing a board game with friends and family online is a great way to pass the time

    For many of us, playing board games with friends or family is the highlight of our festive season – and thanks to modern technology, you can continue that tradition online.

    Not only can you set up the board and play via Zoom (if both of you own the game in question), but during the pandemic, lots of our favourite board and card games released their own virtual versions to allow people to connect online

    You can check out our guide to the best board games to play this Christmas to find out more. 

  • Give or receive on One Another

    A woman delivering shopping to an elderly relative
    Giving your time is a great way to stay busy over the festive period

    If you’re not self-isolating and looking to connect with people in your local community, social kindness platform One Another could be exactly what you’re looking for.

    Whether you want to volunteer your time, request assistance from a local person or share a note of gratitude with your community, One Another allows users to connect with like-minded people in a secure place.

  • Call a helpline

    If you’re struggling with a particular issue or just want to talk to someone one-on-one, there are a range of helplines you can call that’ll be available throughout the Christmas period.

    The above infographic highlights just a handful of the brilliant helplines that’ll be answering calls, including the Samaritans, who can be reached on 116 123 by anyone who needs to talk.

    This list by the mental health charity Mind is also a useful resource. 

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with loneliness, you can find support and resources on the mental health charity Mind’s website and NHS Every Mind Matters, or access the NHS’s list of mental health services.

If you are struggling with your mental health as a result of loneliness, you can also ask your GP for a referral to NHS Talking Therapies, or you can self-refer.

For confidential support, you can also call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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