The festive period can bring up painful memories or worsen difficult feelings often related to family or relationship issues, financial or health worries, to name but a few.
Pressure to be having a good time or comparing your life with someone else’s can be too much. Even with friends and family around you, that sense of being alone with difficult thoughts or feelings, can make it seem as if you have no one to turn to.
You can help people who may be feeling lonely and isolated by making time to talk over the festive period and throughout the rest of the year.
It could be when you are doing your shopping at the supermarket, when you are at the pub or out for a walk. Just saying a simple “hello” and having a chat could make a difference to someone who is lonely and isolated from society.
Take the time to speak to your friends and family who you won’t be with this Christmas. A ten-minute phone call can have a big impact. Ring the doorbell and give a Christmas card to your neighbour. Start a conversation and make a connection.
Get in touch with your local care home or homeless centre and ask if they might need some support this Christmas and New Year. Lend a helping hand with the cooking or even entertaining the residents.
Bake or buy some mince pies and share them with your friends and neighbours. Do you have a spare chair at your dinner table? Know a neighbour who might be alone? Inviting them to join you for Christmas dinner could make a huge difference to them.
Hosting a Christmas or New Year party? Don’t forget to invite your neighbours. If there’s anyone in your community who might be alone, send them an invite. The more the merrier!
It’s important to remember that while older people can feel lonelier and more isolated at Christmas and over the New Year, loneliness and isolation happen all year round and can affect people of all ages.
However, Christmas and the New Year can be good times for us to connect with each other and help others to feel less lonely.
Colin Cox, Cumbria County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Our communities are where we have our homes and they affect how we feel.
“Our neighbours can be both a vital source of support or a reminder of how lonely we are and this becomes clearer than ever in winter when the nights draw in and temperatures fall.
“Older adults, relatives and neighbours are more vulnerable in the winter months and may need a bit of extra help. If you suspect someone may be lonely, why not call in on them more regularly to see how they are?
“If they cannot get out and about as much during the winter, why not offer to run some errands for them or do their weekly shop when you do yours?
“Small gestures can go a long way so we must all make sure we keep in touch, pop in for a cuppa, check if others are feeling ok and check if people have enough food or medicines before a spell of bad weather.”