With a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic raging across Canada, spending Christmas alone this year may be inevitable for many. Following the precautionary measures, such as restricted travel and physical distancing are critical in staying safe and curbing the spread of COVID-19. However, it also means you may not be able to meet your own children or grandchildren in person during the holidays. Instead of planning get-togethers, party outfits, and trips to the mall for buying presents, you may be wondering how to avoid loneliness especially if you can’t see your family for the holidays.
Holiday loneliness is a reality. Know that you are not alone
Although not much is spoken about loneliness as a public health issue, as per the census data almost 1/3rd of Canadians aged 65 and above live alone. A recent survey also indicates that in the COVID era of physical distancing, about 40% of Canadians aged 55 and over are experiencing loneliness.
Holidays are the time when Canadian retirees look forward to spending time with the family, sharing meals, cozying up around the fireplace, and creating happy memories. However, the pandemic has thrown us all a curve ball and is affecting everyone differently. Whether you caught the virus and are slowly recovering, have lost loved ones to it, or you have experienced financial or other hardships since COVID-19 struck, know that you are not alone. Psychologists believe it is important to:
- Be good to yourself: Acknowledge and accept that the present realities are a result of unprecedented circumstances and you may have no control over them. Instead of being hard on yourself, treat yourself to a relaxing bath, curl up with a book (new or a classic), binge-watch your favorite shows, or anything else that lifts your spirits and makes you feel good.
- Have something planned: Connect with family and friends to work out alternative ways for celebrating Christmas and the holidays. From daily video calls with loved ones, to casual catch ups with neighbors over the garden fence, make a diary of your ‘appointments’. Planning ahead will help you have something to look forward to instead of feeling overwhelmed or dejected.
- Reach out for help: Being alone during the holidays or Christmas without family can be upsetting. However, if you find yourself crying often, not wanting to get out of bed in the morning, losing your appetite, or feeling more and more hopeless, these could be signs of depression, and not just loneliness. No matter what triggers such events, do not hesitate to reach out and seek help from friends, family members, or your healthcare provider.
Tips for spending the holidays or Christmas alone
During the first wave of COVID-19, it was early spring, and there were several opportunities for spending time outdoors. However, with the darker, shorter and colder days looming upon us, it is natural to worry about feeling alone during the upcoming holidays. While feeling isolated during the holidays or spending Christmas day without family may be inevitable this year, here are some tips to avoid loneliness when living alone:
- Make the most of technology: Sharing a meal over an elaborate table of Holiday goodies may not be possible this year. However, you may want to plan a virtual lunch or dinner with the entire family. In addition to eating together, you could get together online for other activities, such as
- Browsing old photo albums and reliving previous holidays
- A virtual version of your favorite holiday traditions, such as playing a board game or watching a Christmas movie
- Singing Christmas carols together on a video call
- Doing an online crossword together
You can also use technology and social media to reach out to old friends, extended family, neighbors, ex-colleagues, and other near and dear ones. Nothing lightens up the mood as much as staying connected when you are by yourself, especially during the holidays.
- Pick up a hobby: Pursuing hobbies is a great way to shake off the loneliness and feel uplifted. Starting an indoor garden, scrapbooking, solving puzzles, knitting, indulging in a new art form, learning a new workout, picking up a musical instrument, blogging, no matter what your interests, the holiday season is a great time to start a new hobby.
- Shift attention outwards: Cultivating a sense of inspiration is one of the most effective ways to cope with isolation and loneliness.
- Maintain a gratitude journal: Being thankful for what you have will take away the focus from what you lack. This is also an efficient way of protecting yourself from stress and depression while dealing with loneliness during the holidays.
- Show care: Find unique ways to reach out to people or touch their lives positively. From handcrafting gifts for loved ones, to donating to a charitable cause, there are various ways to show you care.
- Give in to curiosity: Whether it is a citizen’s initiative, a social justice cause, a scientific quest, or something else, while you are spending Christmas alone, explore your pet projects and avoid the feeling of loneliness.
Stay financially independent in your efforts to avoid loneliness
Achieving financial independence is about securing stress-free golden years. Not only can you enjoy your retirement without worrying about your finances, but you can pursue a number of activities to ward off loneliness during the holidays. The CHIP Reverse Mortgage® from HomeEquity Bank will allow you to access up to 55% of your home’s value to get tax-free cash in hand.
You can use this extra cash for pursuing hobbies or projects, upgrading your home, investing in technology, paying for your medical bills, consolidating your high-interest debts, supplementing your living expenses, or any other purposes.
- You will retain ownership of and can stay in the home you love.
- You do not need to pay any monthly installments or interest. The loan becomes due only when you decide to sell your home, move out or if both homeowners pass away.
- Your eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), or income from Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSPs) will not be impacted.
Whether it is during the holidays or through the rest of the year, dealing with loneliness is always tough. Use the CHIP Reverse Mortgage to fund your hobbies, projects or other expenses, and avoid loneliness when living alone. Call 1-866-758-2447 to learn more, or explore our reverse mortgage calculator to find out how much tax-free cash you could access.