As a professional matchmaker, I hear many stories of loneliness and despair, but it seems amplified around the holidays.

These singles want to meet someone and they want to meet someone fast. They are tired of living their lives alone and being “singled” out. They are tired of being the third wheel when they used to be a couple. They find many of their old friends feel uncomfortable with inviting them to social events because they don’t want to take sides. But most of all, they simply feel lonely. And the holidays certainly have a higher level of happiness expectation, so that doesn’t help.

Guy Winch, @guywinch, of Psychology Today states: Lonely people dread the holiday season more than any other time of year. Watching everyone around them connect to those they love makes their own feelings of emotional isolation even more profound. Indeed, the holidays can make loneliness feel especially excruciating.

Loneliness is not an objective or quantitative measure of friendship or companionship but a qualitative one; a subjective feeling of deep emotional or social disconnection (or both). For example, many people might be married yet feel extremely lonely (read Are You Married but Lonely here). Others might find themselves amidst large family gatherings yet still feel distant, unengaged, misunderstood, or unseen.

Loneliness Damages Us Emotionally, Physically, and Socially

Loneliness is not only painful emotionally but it can have a devastating impact on one’s long term psychological and physical health. Loneliness predisposes us to depression and increases our risk of Alzheimer’s disease, it suppresses our immune system functioning, it stresses our cardiovascular systems, and when chronic, it affects our very longevity.

In addition, loneliness also impacts our social functioning. Lonely people often develop defensive coping mechanisms that make it difficult for them to create new connections with others or deepen existing ones (read Why Loneliness is a Trap and How to Break Free here). It is natural for those who suffer loneliness to become self-protective and make efforts to avoid any situations that could expose them to further rejection.

Further, the rejection that lonely people already feel often causes them to have pessimistic and defeatist outlooks and to be skeptical as to whether others are interested in them or care about them. Therefore, lonely people are likely to be reluctant to reach out and initiate contact with friends and acquaintances, have nowhere to go when the holidays come around and then feel even more desperate and alone.

Here is a way to combat these immense feelings of loneliness:

  1. Reach out to friends and family and be assertive. Ask them what their plans are and see how you can get involved. An open-ended “let’s do something” isn’t going to cut it. Be concrete.
  2. Post a message on FB for a specific day and activity. Something along the line of “I’m volunteering with the Salvation Army at this time and place-who wants to join me?”
  3. Work on a specific person who you would like to become closer to. Suggest an activity, or have them over to your home for some festive libation or snack. Nothing lures people more than something rewarding-and hopefully you’ll be developing the relationship further.
  4. As corny as this sounds, and if baking or volunteering is your jam-bake up a storm and bring the items to first responders. They will appreciate it and it will give you purpose. Who knows….your next love interest may be across the counter taking your goodies!

Lori Mendelsohn is a matchmaker in the Milwaukee area. Her business is www.smartfunnysingle and she has over a dozen marriages under her belt with one engagement pending. She uses her intuition and knowledge of the human condition to match singles.

To view the entire article by Guy Winch, please click on: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201312/surviving-loneliness-over-the-holidays