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By Betty Adams | 15.12.23

Coping with loneliness this season

Although the festive period may be the most wonderful time of the year for some, for many, it can be the loneliest time. The yuletide season brings with it pressure to connect with family and friends, long dark nights, expectations of gift-giving, and missing loved ones that we’ve lost – all of which can lead to feelings of inadequacy if your festive break isn’t the perfect picture postcard scene.

Recent data from Age UK shows how difficult this time can be for many people, with 2.3 million older people in the UK wishing they had someone to spend time with at Christmas. A loneliness survey also revealed that 17% of people in the UK felt more lonely over the festive period.

Here, we’ll share some ways you can support yourself, or someone you care about this year, as well as signposting where you can go for extra support.

Spend time outdoors

As the nights draw in and the frost descends, it can be difficult to get outside during daylight hours. Finding time during the day to get into nature, even just for ten minutes, will lift your spirits, helping you to feel calm. There’s many physical and mental benefits to getting outdoors, with data from The People and Nature Survey for England revealing that 92% of adults who had visited a natural space in the previous 14 days agreed it was good for their mental health.

Feel good through exercise

Whether your walking the dog, lifting weights in the gym or joining a pilates class, being physically active helps reduce stress and improves your mood, mental health, and emotional wellbeing. It can be difficult to get started with exercise, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Take it slowly with building your confidence to find an activity that works for you, and take care of yourself while being active.

Engaging in self-care activities helps you put time aside to do things that help you to live well, enabling you to manage stress and increase your energy.

Do something for you

It’s important to look after yourself during this time, so have a think about the things you enjoy most. It might be spending time to cook a delicious meal, watching your favourite film, or having a pamper day. Engaging in self-care activities helps you put time aside to do things that help you to live well, enabling you to manage stress and increase your energy.

Stay busy

Plan ahead by thinking about how you’d like to spend your time. The festive break often gives us the opportunity to do things we wouldn’t usually have time for. You might want to catch up on a new series, start a jigsaw, play games, learn a new craft skill such as knitting, do some baking, or attend any local events happening near you.

You’re not on your own with loneliness

If you are on your own, try to remember that many others will also be feeling the same. If you have friends or family that you’d like to connect with, make an effort to get in touch, whether it be through a text message, phone or video call, or a card. Even small interactions can boost your mood, such as chatting with a neighbour or bus driver.

Where to find extra support

Samaritans

If you’d like someone to talk to, you can call this helpline to chat to someone. The service is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including Christmas Day.

Get in touch by calling 116 123

YoungMinds

A charity supporting young people’s mental health, who offer a helpline for parents and a text service for young people.

Text YM to 85258 or call 0808 802 5544

Dial House

A safe space in Leeds for those in mental health crisis, with access to one-to-one support. Open from 6pm-2am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Call 0113 260 9328

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) Single Point of Access (SPA)

Support for those who need urgent care or treatment for a mental health crisis. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Call the SPA on 0800 183 1485

Connect Helpline

Telephone and online support open from 6pm-2am every night of the year for those living in Leeds.

Call 0808 800 1212

Shout

A 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis, if you’re struggling to copy and need immediate help.

Text SHOUT to 85258

Mind

Mental health charity with support and signposting via Infoline. Please note the helpline is closed on 25 December, 26 December and 1 January.

Call 0300 123 3393

Night Owls

Confidential support line for children, young people, and their parents and carers who live in Leeds, Calderdale, Kirklees, Bradford or Wakefield.

Call 0800 1488 244 or text 07984392 700

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