How to Deal With Loneliness if You're Away From Your Family Over the Holidays

light up board of merry xmas

Even if you can’t see your loved ones this season, you can still make it a special time of year.


Beyond the sparkling lights and piles of gifts, this time of year emphasizes gatherings and quality time with loved ones. As if quarantining and social distancing in college wasn’t isolating enough, it’s even lonelier when it means you can’t spend the holidays with family or close friends. Of course nothing will replace the joy of celebrating with loved ones, but there are ways you can still make this holiday season a special and memorable one. Try these ideas to help you deal with loneliness if you’re spending the holidays alone this year.


Stick with Traditions

Just because you can’t physically be with those closest to you this season doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with traditions. Ask your grandma for her latke recipe or whip up a batch of your uncle’s beloved gingerbread cookies, and then video chat while you all eat together. Maybe your family can send you a Christmas tree ornament, nativity scene, or menorah to add a touch of home to your space. And you can even use a browser extension like Teleparty or Scener to watch your favorite holiday movies as a group, so you can all quote your favorite lines together.


But Don’t Be Afraid to Start Something New

Do you always prefer colored lights over warm white on the Christmas tree, but get vetoed when you’re at home? Or does your family always eat ham for the big dinner, when you’d prefer veggie lasagna? Whatever it may be—big or small—use this time away from your family to start some of your own holiday traditions. If, for example, your family has always gone with an artificial tree, you could grab your Weekender FX Mini bag and take a trip to the local tree farm to pick out a real one. (Don’t forget to make your own decorations for it later!) Keeping yourself preoccupied with fun, creative activities will take your mind off any loneliness you may feel.


Set Up a Time to Talk with Family and Friends

Nail down a schedule for when you will video chat with your family and friends ahead of time. This will give you something to look forward to and help you avoid an annoying game of phone tag. Plus, having a set time for when you’ll talk gives you the freedom to make plans for the rest of your day, rather than wasting it waiting around to hear back from people.



Combat your holiday loneliness by giving back. You might not be able to spend time with your loved ones, but you can give your time to others. An afternoon volunteering at the local community kitchen will keep you busy and will provide you with connection and conversations. Some other options: Find a toy drive and fill a bag with toys for those in need, or write letters to seniors in nursing homes who have been particularly affected by the pandemic.


Seek Support

You don’t have to deal with loneliness on your own. See if you can connect with other students on campus who also are unable to go home for the holidays. You can plan a virtual or outdoor gingerbread house party or take a walk to admire holiday lights off-campus. It may also be helpful to reach out to your school’s counseling center, as it’s important to take care of your mental health in college, especially during a pandemic. A professional can help you come up with even more coping mechanisms to help handle your feelings while away from your family.


Looking to try a little self-care over this weird holiday break? Here are some relaxing ideas to help you destress.


By: Katie Nolan