Stay involved, serve causes to combat holiday loneliness - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

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Stay involved, serve causes to combat holiday loneliness

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Posted: Monday, November 19, 2018 7:00 am

The holidays can be a joyous, festive time. Gathering loved ones together for home-cooked meals, exchanging thoughtful gifts and hopefully not getting too tangled in lights mark the season for many individuals. There are others, however, for whom this time of the year can be the most saddening. For those far from family or who have lost loved ones, the holidays might bring a great deal of loneliness and grief.

Human beings need social connection. This has also been on the radar of psychologists for quite some time. Notably, James House, Karl Landis and Debra Umberson published significant findings on the correlation between social relationships and health in 1988. Similar studies done more recently yielded similar results. People with a lower quantity and quality of relationships are at greater risk for health issues such as increased mortality rates and reduced immunity than those who have a higher instance of both.

You might wonder, “How can I mend a broken heart or relationship?” The answer to that is not easy or quick. However, I would like to provide some ways you can begin to build healthy connections and improve your quality of life this holiday season.

1) Put yourself out there.

I know this frightens my fellow introverts, but it is doable and the only way to start building a supportive network. The holidays present a plethora of opportunities to volunteer with causes you might find meaningful. Along the way, you will meet others who share your passion. The work you are doing will also take your mind away from your current situation.

2) Reach out to old friends.

This recommendation might seem even harder than the previous one. Once again, it is not easy but achievable. We often get busy in life and lose touch with loved ones. Sit down and list people you are friends with but have not spoken with in a while. You may be surprised how happy they are to hear from you and you will get the chance to reminisce and make some new memories this season.

3) Re-connect with family.

Relationships are like many precious items, they are fragile. They can get damaged. Thankfully, they are not irreparable in many cases. If you had a falling out with a parent or sibling, the holidays can be a great time to make wrongs right and start enjoying harmony between family. It is hard work, but the deep bonds and support that healthy family ties can bring is invaluable for good health.

I must highlight that not every item on this list may work for your personal circumstance. My hope is that it gets you pointed in the right direction toward a healthier life. I do not recommend allowing someone who is toxic back into your life just to not be lonely. I also do not recommend trying to completely change yourself or your situation overnight. Apply these recommendations in increments. Speak with a licensed mental health professional or other trusted counselor to give you personalized guidance. Be patient with yourself and the process.

For more information on local mental health resources, visit www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/counseling.

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