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Lonely this Christmas - New BPS research highlights concerns over spending the festive season alone

23 December 2020

New research from The British Psychological Society (BPS) has found that 41% of people surveyed are worried that a family member, friend or loved one will be lonely this Christmas.

With the announcement of Tier 4 restrictions and the reduction in days people are able to see their family and loved ones over the festive period meaning many will be unable to meet, the BPS is encouraging people to reach out to anyone they are concerned about.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by the BPS to investigate loneliness and isolation at Christmas, found that more than one quarter of respondents (27%) said they had no plans to spend time with friends, family and loved ones over the Christmas period.

In response to the findings, Dr Vivian Hill, chair of the BPS’ Covid-19 Isolation and Confinement Group said:

“The findings confirm our expectations that there will be lots of people who feel lonely at this time of year, and many people are concerned about loved ones that they cannot spend time with, being lonely.

It is so hard, especially in light of the new restrictions, but it is really important that we don’t compromise health and wellbeing and keep our loved ones safe this festive season.

So we will need to adapt like we have done all year.

This means a different type of Christmas, but that doesn’t mean that anyone needs to be lonely.

We need to act in kindness and act in anticipation, reaching out with those small acts of kindness and compassion to look after those who are vulnerable to loneliness.

By making sure we have strategies in place to support them we know we can make a difference. We’d also urge people who are feeling lonely to reach out, it can be difficult but if this year has taught us anything it’s that we are all vulnerable and we all have days where we struggle, so ask for help if you need it.”

There are some simple and practical ways to reach out to people you may be worried about this Christmas:

  • Send cards or a letter – sending a handwritten card or letter that people can return to sends a really strong physical message that you are thinking of them and you’ve taken the time to send them something special.
  • Send gifts that last and encourage continued interaction – consider sending some bulbs someone can plant, they can then update you when the first shoots appear and begin to bloom, it encourages them to keep interacting with you and creates a shared connection.
  • Reach out with a text, phone call or share something humorous from social media – stagger your messages with a text in the morning, then a phone call later in the day. Try sharing a funny meme or something from social media with a ‘made me think of you’ message.
  • Find out if anything is going on in your community, such as schools visiting different streets to sing carols and encourage people to safely attend.
  • Chat on the doorstep – If possible, knock on the door of someone you are worried about and have a chat (at a safe distance of course). Just five minutes to say hello with a smile can make the world of difference.

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