Diwali 2023 and mental health: How to fight loneliness during the festive season | Health

Indians have not had a break from festive celebrations as right after Karwa Chauth, we had Dhanteras and are now looking forward to Diwali and Bhai Dooj but even amidst the bustling festival lights, some feel the quiet echoes of loneliness, reminding them that even in a crowd, the heart seeks the comfort of true connection. Loneliness during the festive season can be challenging but there are strategies to combat it effectively.

Diwali 2023 and mental health: How to fight loneliness during the festive season (Photo by Trần Long on Pexels)

Although lots of people feel lonely during festival time, the reasons for this feeling vary greatly from person to person. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Psychologist Jyoti Dadlani highlighted that some possible reasons might include:

• You live abroad and are unable to fly home

• You keep seeing posts and pictures of loved ones celebrating Christmas on social media and it gives you FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out).

• You don’t have good relationships with your family

• You’re struggling with financial difficulties

• You don’t celebrate festival for cultural or religious reasons

• Or Simply you are missing out on true connection.

She revealed, “According to the survey – 30 percent of Indians admitted to experiencing moments of self-consciousness about their single status during this season, while 32 percent confessed to feeling a sense of lonesomeness without a date or partner to share the festivals with.In fact, according to a survey, around 33% of adults have felt lonely at some point in life.”

Talking about what we can do to tackle this feeling, she suggested some tips for dealing with loneliness over the festive period and also beyond –

1. Celebrate alone

You can easily avoid loneliness by planning one nice thing for yourself for each day of Diwali. For example, start with decuttler, decorate your home, bright colours work wonders on mood therapy, celebrate with orphan homes – you could bring a smile to someone’s face, read a good book or watch a cozy movie. Diwali holidays are the perfect opportunity to unwind and recover from stress (particularly the kind caused by social events). See them as a chance to connect with a sense of contentment within yourself and with your own plans.

2. Create opportunities to celebrate with others

If you’re finding it hard to celebrate alone, you can always find other opportunities to plan a get-together with loved ones. For example, you could take part in a video call during a particular tradition (e.g., dinner, joint breakfast, unwrapping gifts).

3. What’s more, there will also be lots of other people in similar situations: For example, if you know friends or colleagues who are also alone, you can take the initiative and invite them to join you. You can use the festival to check in with friends and family and invest in existing relationships.

4. Creating opportunities to get in contact with other (new) people: For e.g., you could take a painting course, join a group (e.g., ex-pats) or go into the office more often to talk to your colleagues. As you can see, there are plenty of ways to either reconnect with social contacts or form new ones, so there’s bound to be something that works for you.

5. Practice gratitude and mindfulness: Cultivate a gratitude practice by focusing on the positive aspects of your life. Practicing mindfulness through activities such as journaling, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help you stay present and manage feelings of loneliness more effectively.

6. Seek professional support if needed: If feelings of loneliness persist and significantly impact your well-being, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. Therapy or counseling can provide you with the necessary tools and strategies to cope with loneliness and improve your emotional resilience.

7. Time for reflection: Finally, the festive season also offers an opportunity to learn more about your personal feelings and needs. “Is your loneliness chronic or a one-off (e.g., because you’re spending Diwali in a different country)? What do you really want (more friends, a partner, a pet…)?” These are the questions you should ask yourself in order to establish where your loneliness stems from and if it’s just related to festival or if it’s something more general. It also helps massively to talk about your feelings and to communicate openly. Naming your feelings make them less abstract. We’re not able to process what we’re not allowed to feel or discuss.

Asserting that connection is the antidote to loneliness, Seema Rekha, Managing Director at Antarmanh Consulting, too recommended a few tips to make the holiday season more joyful –

  • Reach Out: Initiate contact with friends and family. A simple call or message can go a long way in creating a sense of togetherness.
  • Volunteer: Consider volunteering for a charitable cause. Giving back to the community can foster a sense of purpose and connection.
  • Online Communities: Join online forums or social media groups related to your interests. Engaging with like-minded individuals can provide a sense of belonging.
  • Self-Care: Prioritise self-care during the holidays. Activities like reading, exercising, or practicing mindfulness can help reduce feelings of loneliness.
  • Create Traditions: Establish new holiday traditions or revisit old ones. These rituals can bring comfort and connection.

Remember, loneliness is a common experience and you’re not alone in feeling this way. By actively seeking connection and focusing on self-care, you can make the festive season a time of warmth and connection.

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