Any holiday from Valentines Day, the 4th of July and even Christmas work on two competing levels. The first is that it is the one time of year when we’re supposed to be forgiving and giving. That means reaching out to friends and family and joining together to make wonderful holiday memories. Holidays can also be a time of year when we inflict all kinds of stress and anxiety upon ourselves. That is especially true for anyone who has gone through a loss of a loved one or who are feeling estranged from their family. This can trigger bouts of loneliness and depression, which are the exact opposite of what the holidays should be all about. There are some proactive steps you can take to avoid holiday loneliness. In fact, these tips can work at any time of the year.

Don’t Retreat 

The idea of avoiding situations that trigger feelings of loneliness seems to make sense but it can have the opposite effect. Instead of isolating at home, try to reach out to at least one friend and engage in something that you both like to do even if that is just going to lunch. Putting yourself “out there” in small ways could lead to big breakthroughs.

Plan Ahead

If you know in advance that you won’t be going home for the holidays, then you need to develop a backup plan. It could be that you’ve spent every holiday back home and missed out on a lot of parties and traditions where you’re living. It is time to tap into those events and friends who can provide you with a sense of belonging.

Throw a Party

Sometimes the reason people experience loneliness during the holidays is that they’re not in a relationship or have recently ended one. The last thing they want is to be at a festive gathering with couples. Of course, not every festive gather is couple-centric. In fact, you could throw your own holiday party, picnic or dinner and mix it up with all your single and committed friends. It’s a great way of taking back the holiday.

Start Working Out

Feelings of loneliness don’t just have an emotional impact but also a physical impact. You can be harming your body by staying alone. That is why it is good to start your holiday by working out. Start today. And it doesn’t just have to be a gym. You could take up yoga or start going on hikes.

Give Back

The holidays are when everyone is supposed to be in a giving mood. This is when charities receive the bulk of their annual donations. It is the perfect time for you to give back, too and not just by writing a check. Find a way to volunteer. There a probably plenty of charities in your community that will be hosting holiday parties. They’ll always be looking for volunteers to pitch in. You could also spend time at a nursing home visiting some of the residents. When you give back, you get out of your own way and that is a wonderful plan for beating back loneliness.