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How to Deal With Loneliness During Holiday Season

How to Deal With Loneliness During Holiday Season
    You CAN avoid a Blue Christmas.

    We’re well into the Christmas holiday season once again.

    This is a time of the year when most people are busy rushing to the malls buying gifts, attending parties, gathering with friends and family, and being merry. Indeed for many, this season is the most wonderful and happiest time of the year.

    However, not everyone will be celebrating this holiday season merrily.

    There are some who feel lonely and unhappy during this time of the year. Their loneliness may come from loss of loved ones through death, separation by physical distance, or through breakups. Other reasons may be that person is anti-social or too busy to participate in this festive season.

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    If you feel lonely and unhappy during the holiday season, here are some tips on how to deal with loneliness — and how to make your Christmas holiday merrier.

    1. Stop excluding yourself and go out.

    If you are feeling lonely and down this Christmas holiday, instead of clinging to self-pity and seclusion (which will only worsen your loneliness), push yourself to go out and attend holiday parties and gatherings. I’m sure there are lots you can choose from, such as those held by your close friends and family, the community you live in, in school, or at work.

    Attending Christmas holiday parties is a chance for you to meet different kinds of people. By being surrounded with lots of people — especially happy and positive people — you won’t feel as lonely as you do now.

    2. Reach out to old friends and family.

    You are given 365 days in a year, and you spend much of it minding your own life. As a result, you are so busy working that you neglect to find time to connect with family or friends. Now is the time to reach out to old friends or family you’ve neglected to give time and priority this year. Don’t be afraid to initiate.

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    As they say: if you want something, you just have to ask.

    3. Volunteer to a cause or event.

    During Christmas, there are many charitable events and causes formed by different organizations that serve to help and make this season merrier to less fortunate people such as the poor and sick. You can find one organization around you and take the initiative to join the cause.

    The benefit of joining these kinds of events will give you a different sense of happiness when you are able to help and make someone else happy. Also, it’s an opportunity for you to realize that your situation isn’t as bad as you think it is. There are more people who are less fortunate and lonelier than you are. Get inspiration and strength from them.

    4. Give gifts to people around you.

    Gift-giving is one of the famous activities during Christmas holiday season. The act of giving is a symbol of remembering the people in your lives, as well as a way to share one’s blessings.

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    There’s a saying that goes:

    “A sure way to be happy is to make someone else’s happy.”

    Cure your loneliness by making another person happy. One way to do that is by giving gifts to those other than your friends and family.  Give gifts to people like your office maintenance personnel, guards, co-workers, bus or taxi drivers — all the people that may not affect your life significantly and yet somehow they all are part of your life.

    You don’t need to give an expensive gift, something even as simple as a Christmas greeting card will be fine. I’m sure you will feel happy once you see the surprised (and happy) expression on their faces once you hand them their gifts.

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    5. Focus your thoughts on what you have — instead of what you don’t have.

    Often the reason for our loneliness and unhappiness roots from our thoughts or mindset. We focus our thoughts on what we don’t have instead of what we have  — that’s why we always feel incomplete and unfulfilled.

    During this joyous season, cure your loneliness by doing the opposite. Focus your thoughts on what you have instead of what you don’t have.  Be grateful for all the blessings and opportunities you’ve had this year. Once you start pinpointing the things you were grateful for and blessed with this year, I’m sure you will realize that your life isn’t as bad as you think it is.

    I hope you were able to pick up valuable tools on how to deal with loneliness during holiday season. Use these to make this time of the year a merry and joyous event. If you have any others to add, please do so in the comments.

    (Photo credit: Lonely Santa Girl with Presents via Shutterstock)

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    Lou Macabasco

    Lou Macabasco aspires to spread positive motivation.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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