LONELY THIS CHRISTMAS

For most people, Christmas is a time for family, friends and reflection on the year all but past. The chances are you’ll be glued to the box watching countless Christmas movies that you have watched thousands of times before. Then later, tucking into Christmas turkey, fish on the BBQ if your a full blown Aussie, or stuffing your face full of ham with your fam come December 25th.

Whilst most of us get stuck into the Christmas cheer, unfortunately Christmas and New Year can be a lonely affair for some. Loneliness, as we now know, is a mental health risk. And it is particularly acute at Christmas, when all around seem swept up in celebrating with family and friends. For those who have no one with whom to celebrate, all the activity serves to highlight their aloneness.

As an expat, I’m all to aware of what it felt like to be at times lonely and my earliest memories of moving to Australia on my own were filled with loneliness, anxiety, uncertainty and fear. I can only imagine that this is the same feelings for people alone at Christmas and New Year

Studies show that social isolation carries the same mortality risks as smoking, obesity and alcohol, and that loneliness can lead to high blood pressure, spikes in stress hormones, chronic inflammation, weaker immune resistance and poorer cardiovascular functioning.

Extreme loneliness can lead to anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, and social isolation is a key risk factor for people who attempt suicide.

Whilst getting into the Christmas spirit this year, spare a moment of your time to be mindful that there are people around you alone and there are people around you in need.

Do something for others and help people feel connected this Christmas and New Year.