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How to deal with loneliness and isolation over the holidays

This is normally a time of year to gather, reflect, and celebrate. But the advice to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe is to stay home. Here’s how to balance the feelings of guilt and depression that brings up.

How to deal with loneliness and isolation over the holidays
[Photo: Anastasiya Yilmaz/Unsplash]
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It has been nine months now since the country, mostly, shut down due to COVID-19. In that time maybe you’ve had socially distanced walks with friends, dined outdoors over the summer, and probably spent way too much time on Zoom. But, despite our best efforts, it’s fair to say that 2020 has been a year of isolation for the vast majority of people.

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That’s been really hard to cope with—and only getting harder during the holiday season as many follow the CDC advice to stay home and not gather with family and friends.

This is something staff writer Pavithra Mohan covered recently, when she spoke to a woman named Ariel about her fraught decision to not visit her family over the holiday and the guilt she feels about her decision.

It’s something many of us can relate to. This time of year is traditionally a time to gather, reflect and celebrate, and after such a difficult year, the urge to do so is greater than normal. But the advice to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe is to stay home. For those who live alone, who have already been isolated for months and are facing a long cold winter inside, that can feel like a daunting directive.

So on this week’s episode of Secrets of the Most Productive People, I talked to Alana Kaufman, a psychotherapist and the founder and director of the Talk Suite about how to deal with the loneliness and guilt, and how it can impact our working lives.

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She mentioned that part of the reason people may be struggling with a lot of different emotions right now is the amount of time we have all had alone with our thoughts and feelings. Some of our reactions to our current situation might tied to unresolved issues in our past.

To endure several more months of isolation, Kaufman recommends a few things that we likely know but need to put into practice: Giving ourselves breaks, finding someone to talk to, and remembering there is a light (and a vaccine) at the end of the tunnel.

It’s not a new normal we need to resign ourselves to, she insists. “This too shall pass,” she says. And the holidays next year will be even sweeter after the year we endured.

You can listen and subscribe to Secrets of the Most Productive People on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, RadioPublic, or wherever you get your podcasts.

About the author

Kathleen Davis is Deputy Editor at FastCompany.com. Previously, she has worked as an editor at Entrepreneur.com, WomansDay.com and Popular Photography magazine.

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