December ARTICLE: Loss/Grief. How to stay busy, importance of not being alone at the holidays

Managing Stress & Feelings of Loneliness During the Holidays

The holidays can be a very stressful time of year. For some, it can be a time of reflection of “days gone by”, which can bring about feelings of loneliness or sadness. Older adults and individuals who are grieving may be particularly vulnerable to these feelings. The holidays may become overwhelming. As a result, some may withdraw and avoid social interaction. Although avoidance is the path of least resistance, it’s important to maintain social connections.

The Importance of Connecting with others

Reaching out for support and companionship is key. Even if distance or circumstance separates you from family members and friends, try to maintain those connections. Reach out by telephone, video call, email, text or social media. Setting a date to meet in person in the near future gives you something to look forward to and creates a positive plan.

There are several ways to connect with others in your community. Many older adults visit the senior center or Council on Aging (COA) to connect with peers. Consider taking a class or participating in the variety of activities and events that are offered onsite. Need transportation assistance in getting there? Contact the COA and inquire about their transportation options.

OCES offers Community Dining meals Monday through Friday at local COAs and housing sites; these provide opportunities to socialize in addition to nutritious noontime meals.

Older adults who are homebound and unable to attend a Community Dining meal site may arrange to receive "Meals on Wheels" delivered to their home. Home-delivered meals provide an important connection to the community while also serving as a safety check.

 

Get Involved

Take on a new hobby or join a club or group that interests you. Attend a presentation at the public library, the local nature center, or art center such as genealogy, history, modern art and more. From exercise classes to book clubs and presentations on a wide variety of topics --genealogy, history, nature, modern art and more-- there are plenty of learning opportunities and ways to remain engaged.

Helping others is another way to improve your spirits and prevent feelings of loneliness or unhappiness. Checking in on a homebound neighbor, helping at the local community center, food pantry, animal shelter, OCES, or other nonprofit organization are all great ways of volunteering. Through volunteering, you’ll help others as well as meet new people and feel more connected to your community.

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