Emma Goldsack from the housing team shares some advice on dealing with a tricky time of year…
As Christmas approaches, it is important to be aware that not everyone will be in a position to celebrate this year. In a world where we can find ourselves quite cut off from others there can be an increasing feeling of loneliness for vulnerable groups of people – when you already feel like an outsider through the year, it can be particularly difficult to make it through a whole season where everyone else seems to be so happy and hopeful.
This feeling of loneliness could come from being physically isolated and away from family, friends or other people in general. On the other hand you could be surrounded by people and feel that they do not know or understand you – sometimes the expectation that you have to be joyful and festive is enough to exhaust you if you simply aren’t feeling in the “Christmas spirit”. At Touchstone we are aware that a lot of people struggle at this time of the year for various reasons, and so I wanted to provide some resources and ideas on how to manage feelings of loneliness in general and cope through the Christmas period.
Coping With Loneliness
We are all individuals and find our own ways of coping with emotional distress. These are just some strategies that have worked for others and may work for you…
- Feelings heighten around times which can remind us of what or who we don’t have, however Christmas will be over by January – maybe things will look different by then.
- Take a brisk walk somewhere surrounded by nature. Away from Christmas TV, shops, etc. it is easier to tell yourself that today is just another day.
- Try to distract yourself from how you are feeling by either doing something that you would usually enjoy or doing something that takes a lot of concentration. You could watch a light hearted movie, work on a puzzle (Sudoku, crossword and word searches all count!), read a book, or simply take a relaxing bath.
- Volunteering to help others can be a great way to meet other people, and can make you feel good about the work you are doing.
- Different organisations host events on or around Christmas where you can meet other people and celebrate Christmas all together with free meals and events – There is a short list of just some of these services around Leeds included below. If you are currently a part of or know of any organisations it is worth asking if they are doing anything special over Christmas. Even if they are not they may be aware of other organisations in the area that are putting on special events!
- Talk about your feelings. Sometimes it takes some of the pressure off of ourselves to have just one person to confide our feelings to. If you do not have someone in your life that you could talk to, there are listening services available to support you whether you are feeling emotionally distressed or lonely – You can find a list of these below.
Meals and Activities on Christmas Day
St George’s Crypt
St. George’s help vulnerable people around Christmas by providing a free 3 course Christmas Lunch, giving presents to children in poverty, providing a warm place to relax with other people and putting on a carol service for their clients.
Address: St George’s Crypt, Great George Street, Leeds, LS1 3BR (near Leeds Town Hall and Leeds General Infirmary)
Phone: 0113 245 9061
Salvation Army work with a wide spectrum of people including people who are unemployed, homeless or in poverty. They hold a ‘luncheon club’ every Tuesday 12pm til 1pm, and have a ‘snack and chat’ each Wednesday 4:30pm til 5:30pm. Each year on Christmas they also serve meals to people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas day.
Address: Leeds Central Salvation Army, Nile Street, Leeds, LS2 7QY,
Phone: 0113 2445898
Email address: email@example.com
Streetwise – Love Leeds
Held at the Life Church Leeds Hub, Streetwise provide a friendly social environment, food and clothing to vulnerable adults in Leeds every Thursday between 7pm and 8:30pm. They are partnered with other local charities and organisations and are able to offer advice and signposting regarding various issues. Their Winter Program includes a Christmas party every year including a meal for attendees.
Address: Life Church Leeds Hub (Hurley House), 1 Dewsbury Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5DQ
Services For Coping with Emotional Distress
08457 909090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Call to make an appointment 0113 260 9328 (Leeds) and you can visit to talk to someone.
0808 800 12 12
Provides up to an hour of emotional support by telephone.
Open 6pm -10.30pm every night of the year in Leeds.
0845 767 8000
1pm – 11pm
Offering emotional support and information
For non-emergency health advice and information call 111