This year, many people are facing the prospect of spending the festive season alone. 2020 has already been tough enough, and in the past nine months we’ve watched as the numbers of people reporting loneliness have edged ever higher.
Many people may be facing the prospect of Christmas on their own for the first time, something that could be causing a great deal of sadness, frustration, and anxiety.
“But there are also two categories of people for whom the lockdown restrictions will make little or no difference to their Christmas plans,” says Bibi Jamieson, an integrative psychotherapeutic counsellor. “The first is those already living with their families. I’ve spoken to some people in this category and they express mixed feelings of guilt and relief. If this is you, please drop the guilt, embrace the relief, and allow yourself to enjoy and appreciate your blessings.
“The second category is, sadly, people whose experience of Christmas has always been lonely because they have no one to share it with. But for both categories, please reach out,” Bibi implores. “Reach out for support and reach out to give support. Drop off a little handwritten note or a slice of cake for those around you who you know are alone, check up on each other. These small acts of human love and kindness matter now more than ever.”
We know that nothing could ever really replace the feeling of being with your loved one, but in their place, we’ve gathered together four tools and events that you can join in with, to help combat loneliness this Christmas.
1. Sarah Millican’s #JoinIn
Now in its tenth year, #JoinIn is a Twitter conversation founded by comedian Sarah Millican, where anyone can join in the chat if they are feeling lonely on Christmas Day. Connect with others who are in the same boat, and step in with a kind word if you see someone else struggling.
For anyone starting to worry about being alone/lonely on Christmas Day, we’ll be doing #JoinIn again on here. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a hashtag we use to connect all of those who could do with some company. Join us for #JoinIn. Our 10th year.
— Sarah Millican (@SarahMillican75) November 23, 2020
2. Rock Choir’s live singalong
Welcome in Christmas morning with a live singalong with high-spirited Rock Choir. Following their Christmas single – which raised money for the Mental Health Foundation – and with many members of the choir themselves reporting struggles with mental health and loneliness, Rock Choir took the step to organise a special broadcast to reach others feeling the same way. The live singalong begins at 9.30 AM.
3. Go on an empathy walk
By tweeting using the hashtags #empathyrun and #wlk2tlk, people are connecting with others in their network, and meeting up for a walk and a chat. You never know who might be struggling in silence, but by letting the people in your network know that you’re there, you’re both helping another and combatting isolation.
Are you a walker or runner? Would you consider tweeting an offer to walk or run with a stranger on your network who might like the company, either in person or phone. This tweet is my offer. DM if interested. Pls retweet using #wlk2tlk & #empathyrun Let’s look after one another.
— William Pullen (@pullentherapy) November 22, 2020
4. Side by Side
Side by Side is an all-year-round platform hosted by charity Mind, which allows users to connect with others with the same experiences. Listen to others, share what’s on your mind, and be part of a supportive community
However you do it this year, know that you don’t have to do it alone – even if you’re miles apart.
“There is so much love out there for you. Christmas may be ‘cancelled’, but nothing will cancel the amount of love and human kindness in the world for you,” says Bibi. “My hope for us all this Christmas is that we hold on tightly to our faith and love – and bravely tap into the well of love and support available.”