The Chronicle, U.S.A.

Six things about holiday loneliness

Living your life on your own terms combats isolation and loneliness during the holidays. What is holding you back? Would you like to vacation during the holidays? Do it!

An action plan is needed to prevent loneliness.Many people who are isolated feel loneliness. A person can be isolated due to lack of finances, a move to a new place, language barrier, lack of motivation, depression, community violence or simple shyness. Identifying and overcoming barriers is key in remedying loneliness.
Even if you don't want to entertain to combat loneliness, you should begin to research events you may want to attend in and out of town, in advance, as to avoid scheduling conflicts. Besides, most of us do not want to go out alone so you still will have to arrange times and dates for any group of people you cobble together.
Remember, as the leaves begin to turn and the trick or treater begins scrambling for candy, we will soon find Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve upon us. No one wants to be isolated during traditional gathering times. It is important is to start in advance to prepare your space or reserve your clubhouse to receive guests. It is also important to start in advance as to get on your potential guests' invitation calendar.
  • The first and most obvious way to remedy loneliness is to get yourself around a good group of people. You have to have good decision making skills in play to accomplish this maneuver because there are many people who may be drawn to an isolated individual and may have malevolent intentions. If you have found a good group of people, whether it be at church or a club or a social group, classmates or random individuals, you have to have an entertainment plan. Are you looking for people to go out with or will you bear the burden of entertaining?
  • If you are entertaining during the holidays, the responsibility of finding a place to gather and finding a theme will be upon you. If you want to hold a pot luck, make sure you consider the skills of the people you invite. Invite people who love food and like to cook. Provide a place for them to show off their skills. If you are blessed enough to live in a warm environment, consider holding a grilling cook-off or a simple barbecue. Also, consider dietary needs of guests if age is an issue. Just as a group of 20-year-olds may not enjoy low sodium, soft foods, a group in their late 60s may not be able to enjoy high fat, high cholesterol meals and thick cuts of meats. Remember to have a variety of foods and drinks.
  • If you are a single parent and want to have a party to combat isolation, consider your children and the amount of extra work you will need to put in to have people in your home. A week of cleaning and re-arranging may be necessary. Consider inviting people with children to your party so your own children can interact as well. Also, remember to provide certain kid-friendly foods in an area away from adults so both groups can have unfettered fun.
  • If you are lonely in a couple, you will have to discuss with your mate ideas that will appeal to both of you, to keep down fuss. A couple's isolation may be solved with a simple dinner party with a few other couples. Loneliness can also be cured by carving out time for a get-a-way just for the two of you. Rediscovering intimacy is a great way to overcome couple's loneliness. (You may have to discuss and lay ground rules for a trip away if you have pre-existing domestic issues.)
  • The last of this is to beware of letting people into your life. When de-isolating after a long period, the shock of so many people in your space may be jarring. Be open about your feelings. Many people find authenticity refreshing. Also, your first step toward de-isolization may not go well but do not let that deter you. There may be larger issues that are a factor in your isolation. Confront them first. If you have been wanting to move or buy furniture or initiate any huge change in your life, do that first. Invite people into a wrinkle-free life. Don't invite people into your life and not expect feedback about the way you are living—whether the feedback is good or bad. Success is an isolating factor as well. Guests fawning over your good tidings and becoming in awe of you can be unnerving due to the fact it is difficult to determine if the new people in your life like you and want to be around you or like being around your material possessions.

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