How to Cope with Being Anxious and Alone for the Holidays

November 26, 2014 Greg Weber

The holiday season of 2013 was the worst of my life. I was grieving the end of a relationship. I was mourning my independence because I had to move back in with my parents. I was suicidal. I was broke. All in all, I felt like a disaster. But I got through it. I wasn't sure I was going to, but I did. It was, however, one of the loneliest times of my life.

The holiday season can be an especially lonely time for anxious people. Here's some tips for how to cope with being anxious and alone for the holidays.Starting this week, millions of people will face the supposedly "most wonderful time of the year" anxious and alone. And I use the term "alone" in a broad sense. Being alone for the holidays can include:

  • Being with family but going through emotional stuff (like depression or anxiety) that you feel they wouldn't understand and that you can't talk about.
  • Coping with private grief, loss, or physical illness that requires you to put on a brave face.
  • Dealing with stigma about sexual orientation and/or mental health stigma.
  • Being literally alone -- spending the holidays totally isolated and by yourself.

The holidays are a painful time, and our culture still lies about that for some bizarre reason, even though everyone seems to know it. Even people without mood disorders can struggle with finding meaning this time of year. Lots of people are suffering, often in silence. I take some comfort in that.

Coping with the Holidays When You're Anxious and Alone

If you're feeling anxious, alone and lacking in the holiday spirit department this season, either by yourself or with others, here are some coping strategies you can try:

  • Create your own meaningful rituals -- Our modern holidays harken back to older rituals that celebrated harvest time, the changing on the seasons, etc. Rituals are simply patterns of human behavior meant to inspire meaningful, purposeful, existence and are fair game for individual interpretation. What objects, music, dances, and words inspire you? Can you use them to create your own sense of holiday meaning?
  • Know that it will pass -- The holiday season may be a time of heightened anxiety, but it's actually pretty short. It will pass, just like it does every year.
  • Use distress tolerance skills -- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a skills-based cognitive therapy to combat self-harming behavior. Its skill set on tolerating intense emotions is helpful for getting through periods of raw pain.
  • Fake it -- Another DBT skill I've found helpful in uncomfortable social situations is called opposite action, a.k.a. "acting as if," a.k.a. faking it. It's a way to cope with the tedious small talk and awkward questions at holiday gatherings by pretending it doesn't bother you and that you're actually kind of into it. Strangely enough, pretending to be interested in something can actually make it more bearable. Weird, huh?
  • Reach out online -- There are a lot of other anxious, lonely people reaching out for support online, including the HealthyPlace forums, and on one of my favorite Facebook groups about dealing with depression.

I hope something I've said here helps you with being alone and anxious this holiday season. I won't say it's going to be easy. I won't even say it's going to be good. But I will say that it's going to be okay. We'll get through it, and we can put 2014 in the rear-view mirror. We may feel alone, but the reality is, we're not.

You can find Greg on his website, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Facebook.

APA Reference
Weber, G. (2014, November 26). How to Cope with Being Anxious and Alone for the Holidays, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Author: Greg Weber

December, 6 2014 at 6:46 am

thank you for ur post...I have been finding comfort in facebook post and hearing others stories.yes it makes me feel like I am not alone. I have turned to god many years ago when the season is about the birth of me that is the most important thing

Leave a reply