covid 19 pandemic holiday loneliness

The phrase ‘home for the holidays’ has a decidedly different tone in 2020, as many of us are exercising caution by social distancing because of the pandemic. All this social distancing, especially during the holiday season, is apt to take its toll. 

Loneliness during the holidays seems even more profound than it does during the rest of the year. Holidays are the epitome of togetherness and joy. Loneliness is the opposite experience, isolation, sadness, and disconnection. 

With the onset of Covid-19 too many of us are coping with loneliness. Rates of depression and anxiety are at an all-time high, and separation from family and friends during the holidays will magnify these feelings for people around the world. 

Strategies for Holiday Loneliness

As holidays approach, there are some steps you can take to reduce loneliness and make a plan for taking care of yourself. These ideas can be used during any period of time but are especially geared toward reducing loneliness during typically festive holidays.

  • Donation of time, goods, or funds. 

Giving reduces loneliness; it connects us with others in a way that nothing else can. Think about your local community and the areas in which others may be struggling or finding themselves in need. 

As you consider where to focus your donation and what type of donation to make, try to select a cause that lines up with your values. Do you love animals? Maybe a donation to your local shelter to help pets in need would be rewarding for you. 

Or donating time at the shelter feeding or spending time with the animals. 

  • Virtual visits. 

While it is not the same, virtual visits through Zoom or video chat is a way to connect with loved ones that you cannot physically spend time with. There are many ways to connect virtually, and gaming options to have fun while you are together online.

  • Pick up the phone. 

Isolation and loneliness can be self-perpetuating. Break through those feelings by reaching out. Try to call loved ones regularly and make it a point to do so even more often during the holidays season. 

  • Keep perspective. 

Holiday loneliness is more pronounced in 2020, and because of this our tolerance for those feelings may be lower than usual. Remember, this too shall pass. Covid-19 will be managed at some point and we will resume our normal gatherings. 

The 2020 holiday season will be a difficult reminder of the sacrifices we have all made to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. 

In 2020, when normal is thrown out the window for the holiday season, it is a good opportunity to reflect on what is important to us. 

Our festivities will look different this year, because they have to. We can use this time as a way to think about who we miss and why; to consider ways to express those thoughts and feelings openly, since our presence with each other is limited right now. 

What has this increased isolation taught you about your relationships? What do you miss most about the usual holiday activities? Share those thoughts and feelings, sit with them and let them inform your life choices. 

May the holidays of 2020 bring you greater wisdom about yourself and your joy through this period of lonely introspection. 


  • Dr. Teyhou Smyth

    Performance Coach, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Keynote Speaker, Licensed Therapist (#115137)

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