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Feeling Lonely During The Holiday Season? We Got You.

If you're in a bit of a rut right now, this can help to lift your mood.

Life & Travel

Upon reading the title of this article, you might've immediately thought that it was a shout-out to all singles this holiday season. Eh. Not quite. For one thing, that got covered last year (check out "A Single Girl's Guide To Getting Through The Holiday Season"). Second, we all know that 2020 wasn't your typical year—not by a long shot—and so, I wanted to approach feeling lonely from a bit of a different angle this time; especially after recently reading a New York Times piece entitled, "Combating an Epidemic of Loneliness". One of the things that it mentioned was while human beings cannot go more than three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food, interestingly enough, we also cannot go more than three weeks without some form of companionship. And y'all, we've been officially quarantining since March. And as you well know, it is now…December.

Something that I've found myself saying, pretty much on repeat, ever since the summer is, while 2020 was a trip-and-a-half, 2021 is also sure to have its own customized bullshishery between the evictions, financial struggles and mental health side effects that will come from having to endure so much from these past several months (and this current administration) alone. Knowing this can bring on a different kind of loneliness—whether you share your living space with someone or not.

So, as we're literally just days away from Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, if something just doesn't feel quite right within, first, know that you aren't alone (again, not by a long shot) and second, here are some suggestions that can hopefully make this holiday season just a little bit easier to endure.

What Are Some Telling Signs That You’re Battling Loneliness?

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Something that I get for the "little friends" in my life is a feelings chart. Unfortunately, a lot of us didn't grow up with parents who weren't emotionally intelligent enough to even know what they were feeling, so they couldn't really teach us emotion-related words beyond happy, sad and angry (didn't know how to model any others appropriately either). So, as adults, some of us really struggle with discerning which emotion we're experiencing at any given time. That's why I think it's important to share what some signs of loneliness actually are. Not to patronize you; just for clarity's sake.

People who are lonely tend to struggle with sleeping soundly at night. Constantly being online rather than interacting with people you have a "real" relationship with can trigger loneliness. If you make mountains out of molehills, that can be a sign of overthinking which can result from feeling isolated and lonely. A weakened immune system can be a sign of loneliness. Constantly binge-watching television is a sign of loneliness. Did you know that being around negative individuals can also make you feel lonely (which is how married folks can feel lonely)? Interestingly enough, shying away from intimacy—physical or emotional—is also a sign of loneliness (many people see it as a way of protecting themselves from further relational disappointment).

Another reason why it's so important to know these kinds of things is so you don't assume that feeling depressed is the only indication of loneliness. It absolutely is not. If you notice that you're going through any of the things that I just shared, and you can't connect these instances to any specific instance, it very well could be that you are dealing with loneliness—the feeling that comes over you when you feel like you are lacking in some level of sympathy, support or companionship.

Figure Out If It’s About the Holidays or Something Deeper

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Now that we've touched on some not-so-surface signs of loneliness, it's important to spend some time figuring out what's causing it for you specifically. Again, if you said it's simply PTSD from dealing with 2020, I would totally get that. Plus, there is something that is literally known as "holiday depression". Whether it's the changes in the seasons and time (which can trigger seasonal depression); watching all of the Christmas Hallmark movies where everyone seems boo'ed up and full of Christmas cheer; reflecting on past memories—good or bad—with loved ones; having a hard time keeping up with your coins; thinking back on what you wanted to accomplish over the past year and quite possibly didn't—again, it makes perfect sense why this may be the time of year when you feel lower than the rest of it.

Another spin is having a few days off around Christmas and New Year's Day may cause you to slow down enough to actually feel what you've been ignoring for the past several months. This is why it's important to make some time to really process what the source of your loneliness actually is. What I mean by that is, even if you feel isolated, detached or like no one really "sees you" or "gets you" right now, what initially got you to feeling that way? Journaling is something that can help you in this area. There is something else that you can do as well. This brings me to my next point.

Let Someone Know What’s Going On

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The times in my life when I've felt lonely, it's weird. While I was feeling like no one had my back, I also didn't want to reach out to people who I knew, deep down, actually did. That's the thing about loneliness—from an emotional standpoint, it tends to encourage you to remain in the state that you are in which ultimately only makes matters worse in the long run.

Sometimes, when you feel like you're out here, all alone, loneliness will tell you that reaching out to someone else—especially during the holiday season—is selfish and inconsiderate. Don't let it lie to you like that. People who truly care about you don't take days off, and while they may be more preoccupied than usual, that doesn't mean that you don't matter to them or that they don't want to help you if you need it.

So, whether it's an emotionally safe family member, friend or reputable life coach, counselor or therapist, if you just can't seem to "shake" what you're going through, don't hesitate to let someone know that. Sometimes, just having someone sympathize or even empathize with your situation can help to get you on the path to getting out of the rut that you are in.

Whatever Makes You Feel Better? DO THAT.

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While it's kind of another article for another time, there is a fine line between doing things that will mask your loneliness (like going on shopping sprees you can't afford, drinking or smoking a lot of weed or engaging in reckless sex or even sex that serves as nothing more than a temporary distraction) vs. doing things that will help you to feel less lonely. Still, when it comes to Column B, there are beneficial ways to make holiday season depression a lot easier to bear. Today, I'll list 10 of 'em.

Pamper yourself. It reminds you that you are important and deserve self-care.

Get off social media and actually connect with a human. OK, there is still a pandemic going on; however, meeting up with someone to go on a winter walk or setting up an appointment to watch a favorite throwback movie with a friend over Zoom (so that you can share the same screen) can get you past being on IG or Twitter all day long. It can make it easier to have personal conversations too.

Take some real time off from work (at least 3-4 days). You would think that getting off of the grid and being quiet would only make you feel lonelier but actually, overworking yourself can cause you to feel overwhelmed which can put more pressure on you which can actually make you feel worse. So yeah, time off is also a helpful tip for overcoming feelings of loneliness.

Do some minor house upgrades. Purchase some items for your home that are in your favorite color. Get some soy-scented candles that can help to lighten your mood (citrus, jasmine, peppermint, vanilla, cinnamon, lavender and cedarwood are all beneficial). Invest in some new bedding (so that you can sleep better). Get a couple of plants (they are proven to improve your mood and increase productivity and creativity). Buy things that will encourage you to be more active like new cooking utensils or some arts and crafts.

Pray and meditate. Sometimes, remembering that there is a power higher than you, can take the pressure off of feeling like you have to do everything—including figuring out how to feel better—alone.

Switch up your diet a bit. It's pretty common that when we're in a bad mood, our diet pretty much sucks. Sugary drinks like sodas and even a lot of fruit juice can cause our energy levels to skyrocket and then instantly crash. Anything from a white grain (like bagels, doughnuts or even white bread or white pasta) are carbs that turn into sugar (and ultimately do what I already said about sugary drinks). Baked goods are made from refined sugars and saturated oils which can result in emotional roller coaster rides. Margarine contains processed saturated fats which can cause your blood sugar levels (and your moods) to be all over the place. Fast food can ultimately make you feel sluggish and lethargic. So, what in the world can you eat that will give you a bit of a pick me up instead? Good question. Articles on our platform like "In A Bad Mood? These Foods Will Lift Your Spirits!" and "Eating Well: 10 Foods That Can Improve Your Mental Health" can help to get you back on track.

Get a pet. Sometimes, being responsible for something else can help to make you feel more necessary and valuable. Pets are great at offering unconditional love too.

Treat yourself this holiday. Something else that can trigger feelings of loneliness around this time of year is feeling like you have to think so much about everyone around you that your own needs end up taking the backburner. Release this toxic mindset because it's totally untrue. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting a few Christmas gifts for yourself in order to put a bit of a smile on your face. In fact, I encourage it.

Have sex. Not "needy sex". What I'm saying is that if you're in an exclusive relationship, sex can also lift your spirits, de-stress you and, ladies, giving head (until completion) is like taking the ultimate multivitamin. It really can't be said enough.

Create a sleep routine. Loneliness that results in sleepless nights that only lead to you feeling worse the next day can be a bit of a vicious cycle. That's why it's not a good idea to wait until you "feel like going to bed" before turning in at night. It's important to actually cultivate a sleep routine. Soak in the tube. Get offline. Sip some herbal tea. Read a book. Go to bed at the same time. Get naked (so that you don't overheat). RELAX. A good 6-8 hours of rest is a miracle resolution for loneliness that isn't praised nearly enough.

Remember That This Too Shall Pass

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While I'd be lying to you if I came up with a timeframe for how long bouts of loneliness tend to last, what I will say is getting a ballpark idea depends on what's triggering it in the first place. If it's a break-up, it kind of depends on how long the relationship was (and if you're dealing with it or denying it); however, a couple of months does tend to turn the "wound" into a "scab". If it's due to seasonal depression, you should feel more like yourself come spring. If it's because you're hormonally all over the place, altering your diet and making an appointment to see your doctor can definitely help. If it's because of the holidays, well, those will be over in just a few days. If you are disappointed in yourself—using this time to think about what you love about you and writing down some goals for what you'd like to achieve next year can be helpful.

You know the main thing that you need to do, though? Remember that this feeling won't last forever. Like I once heard Dylan McKay's mom say on an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210, "Even despair exhausts itself." It might not feel like it right now but be gentle with yourself, be forgiving of yourself, be compassionate towards yourself. Feeling lonely is nothing to feel ashamed about or be scared of. You feel like you're not getting support so again, reach out for some. And yes, remember sis, that like all seasons of life, this too shall pass.

Now get yourself a cup of hot cocoa, snuggle under a cable knit blanket and call a friend. I'm pretty sure they would be happy to hear from you. Especially since it's the holiday season.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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