How Social Media can Increase Holiday Loneliness
You probably know how it all begins…
Your neighborhood is lit up with the endless sea of Christmas lights. Holiday music and films resonate throughout your home and follow you around like a small child. Family members ferociously plan gatherings, events, and even Zoom calls to celebrate the holidays. And you know what they say… “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” … but is it really?
Behind all the beauty, the lights, and the excitement of the holiday season, it seems that we forget to acknowledge those who experience great loneliness, and those who dread the season of expectations.
A recent survey showed that more than 1 in 10 Americans feel extreme loneliness
heading into the holiday season.
Now, you might be asking why people would feel this way during this time. There’s an unlike culprit that we never truly consider and that, my friends, is social media.
Social media has become the medium in which we connect, while at the same time becoming an arena for ruthless competition.
Remember those times you would mindlessly scroll down your phone for hours. What do you remember? What did you see? Probably the good times, but sometimes, not your own.
It becomes incredibly difficult to enjoy your small moments of happiness, when you are constantly comparing yourself to other people’s lives. Have you ever found yourself that whenever someone is ahead of us, we have the need to catch up? The expectations become unreachable, and our own lives become unbearable to witness.
In this new culture of endless comparisons, it seems that we make our own personal choices based on the choices of other people. We chase happiness because we want to be just like those who seem to have it all together. But do they?
During the holiday season, this amplifies, and the comparison culture becomes evident on social media. You might see friends travelling all over the globe, receiving material things, or just being with their families. This can take its toll if you are not where you want to be.
Even if you are with your family, you might experience loneliness in other ways.
You might be grieving the loss of a loved one, or a past relationship, you might experience separation anxiety if you’ve had to leave someone or something behind. Unexpectedly, social media has a magical touch in which it can transform these feelings into a mixture of sadness, and envy.
Alongside the loss that we might experience, the holiday season brings new expectations and anticipation for material gifts and… new romantic partners. Has it ever happened to you that you are at a Christmas dinner, you open your presents, and then immediately connect to social media? You probably noticed how someone got a new Chanel bag, when maybe you got something that was “less” fancy or expensive, or someone is getting engaged while you’ve been single the entire holiday season?
It is hard to be happy when all you see is someone getting everything that once dreamed of. You might feel estranged, unworthy, and unloved when your life doesn’t measure up to everyone else’s.
If you are struggling with your mental health issues during the holiday season, there’s a few things to consider:
1) Embrace feeling lonely! It is okay to feel lonely. You are not alone. Find ways to declutter your brain by journaling your thoughts and emotions.
2) Decrease TV and social media usage. I know… Harder said that done, but remember,
THIS IS NOT REALITY. Let go of the expectation that the holiday season is perfect. Enjoy them as they are.
3) Lower your expectations.
4) Be prepared by planning activities that make you happy!
5) Practice gratitude.
6) Call a friend or a family member.
7) Seek help from a therapist.
And always remember, loneliness is a feeling, not a fact even if it feels like it in the moment.
If you are interested in meeting with a therapist to help you navigate holiday loneliness, click on this link for further information.
Written by Orianna Torres
From Orianna's bio...
Orianna credits her own personal struggles with anxiety while growing up which helped her to understand how debilitating it can be. She feels that it guided her to be a better therapist and she is now more effective in helping her client’s find their footing again by standing alongside them until they can stand on their own. Her main goal is to provide a safe and comfortable environment filled with unconditional support, attentive listening and always making sure to remember important details of her client’s journey no matter how big or small they may be.
Her favorite quote is “It is an act of bravery to feel your feelings.”