It’s pegged as the most magical time of the year, but for many, Christmas time can be tough.
Some may not have traditional family units; others may have been through a difficult time – whether that be a break-up or the loss of a loved one, for others the financial strain that the festive season brings can be overwhelming.
As society continues to evolve, and we welcome technology that makes our lives easier in many respects, sometimes the same revolutionary technology can increase the risk of loneliness. From working more flexibly, but often remotely, to doing our shopping online, the warmth of human contact risks receding from our lives. It’s for these and other reasons that loneliness is said to rise at this time of year, with people feeling less connected to those around them.
There is now research that shows the loss of social contact can be damaging to not only our mental health but also our physical well-being.
So how do you tackle the feeling of loneliness? ‘Let’s Talk Loneliness’ a UK government initiative which launched last October explains that loneliness is an emotion like any other and is likely to pass, they add however that it’s important to not to blame yourself for feeling lonely. It’s also important to remember that loneliness can impact anyone – even those who have lots of family and friends around them.
There are many different ways to cope with loneliness, and the program has lots of suggestions ranging from joining a community group, volunteering to help people in need or trying to incorporate some exercise into daily routines. It’s also vital that we look out for each other and if you notice someone who doesn’t seem like themselves, whether that is your colleague, friend, family member or neighbour – why not take a moment to check in with them and see how they are doing, or better yet, invite them for a coffee. You may never realise the impact you have by reaching out.
Connectivity can also play a role in this. If you can’t catch-up with people face-to-face, you can of course always pick up the phone or face-time them. Catch-ups now don’t need to happen in person to be meaningful.
This time of year is a time for reflection and celebration, as well as looking forward to the new year ahead. While it might traditionally have been done with people we are bound to by blood; families come in many different forms now. It’s essential to recognise that and to celebrate those people in our lives who are special to us, and by widening the circle of those we connect with this Christmas we may all feel a little less lonely.
Louisa Gregory, Chief of Staff and VP, Inclusion and Diversity, Colt Technology Services