People who are lonely or have feelings of disconnectedness often avoid social interactions at holiday time. Unfortunately, withdrawing often exacerbates the feelings of loneliness and symptoms of depression. These individuals may see other people spending time with friends and family and ask themselves, “Why can’t that be me?” or “Why is everyone else so much happier than I am?”
Experts advise a regimen of self-care during the holidays, which includes eating a healthy diet, maintaining a regular sleep pattern, and exercise. In fact, as little as 30-minutes of cardiovascular exercise can provide an immediate mood boost similar to the effects of an antidepressant medications.
One of the best things a person can do, however, is to reach out to others despite how difficult it may seem. “That loneliness should act in a similar way to thirst, motivating you to change your behavior in some way,” says John Cacioppo, Ph.D., director of the Center of Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago.