For those who are socially isolated, it is important to take proactive steps so that you do not spend the holidays alone. Reach out to friends, family (even distant family), and acquaintances in advance of the holidays. The best way to do so is merely to ask what they are doing for Christmas or the New Year. Such questions usually draw a response and then a similar question from the other person—and consequently, an invitation, once they hear “I don’t have any set plans yet.”
Fishing for invitations can feel risky for someone who is lonely and it might also feel frustrating to have to use such ‘tactics’. But keep in mind studies clearly show that loneliness makes us underestimate the extent to which those around us care about us as we are likely to view our friends and friendships more negatively than we should. Even if we’re skeptical about it, we should assume the person who invites us is happy to have us (otherwise they would not have extended the invitation in the first place). Spending the holidays with friends, even if not the closest friends, is far better than spending them alone and miserable.
Another strategy is to reach out to people you know and suggest actual activities. People are much more likely to respond to specific suggestions than to a generic ‘let’s get together’. Posting a message on Facebook such as, ‘Message me if you want to go caroling tomorrow evening!’ might get a response and asking people to message rather than post a reply means a potential lack of response will at least not be public.
Lastly, make every effort to put on a smile and have the right holiday spirit when you do socialize, as doing so will make for a better time and it will make others more eager to hang out again in the future.
For those who feel emotionally isolated but do have people around them, the holidays are a good time to work on deepening emotional connections you already have. Choose one person with whom you might get closer over the holidays and make an effort to spend time with them, talk with them, or do activities together. If it is a family member, going over family photographs is a great way to connect and rekindle feelings of a shared history. If it is a friend, going over old yearbooks from school or college can achieve a similar goal.
Lastly, make every effort to participate in group activities or family discussions as removing yourself from them sends a signal which pushes others away. Yes, it takes a huge effort to put on a smile and participate, but doing so is an important investment. The holidays do provide an opportunity to get closer to people