The holiday season can be a difficult time for many people when dealing with the loss of loved ones, stress, and feeling excluded. As Dr. Nobel, Founder of The Foundation for Art and Healing, wrote in Psychology Today, the holidays “drive up enormous expectations through media, through advertising, through history and culture, about how connected we should be, and how that’s the norm. Those increased expectations set us up to feel as though we’re falling short of what we should be having for connection.”
However, there are ways to counteract these seasonal challenges. The Foundation for Art and Healing’s UnLonely Project is demonstrating how creative expression can ease loneliness, one of today’s fastest-growing public health crises. The focus of this important mission is on sharing our personal stories with each other, thereby creating human connection.
We attended the Project’s holiday event hosted at Steelcase and the evening gave us a renewed sense of hope for social engagement today and for every day of the year. In his remarks, Dr. Nobel suggested that we be present and talk to one another without distraction. He prompted everyone to put phones away and to chat with those “you don’t know, you didn’t come with, and didn’t invite you here.”
Mike Thompson followed up on the importance of these conversations in both our personal and professional lives. He said, “Even employers have to focus on making meaningful connections with their employees and that’s something we prioritize in our work at the National Alliance. Loneliness and isolation used to be something that wasn’t talked about, and now I talk about it every week. And I talk to a lot of people––I hope you do, too.”
It was heartwarming to be at a holiday party where people were interacting with a great deal of authenticity. The room was full of strangers talking to one another about their own experiences, the times they felt isolated, and the issues they care about. Many exchanged contact information to continue these new relationships.
We left this inspiring gathering with the notion that the single most important thing we can do to connect is to talk with one another. We encourage you to share genuinely with someone today, which might facilitate that person being more open with you. Call a loved one, reach out to an old friend, or strike up a conversation with someone new. Simply engaging with others is healing and you will be surprised at the commonalities between all of us in this great big human family.
The Meeting House: Feeling Lonely? 5 Tips for Staying Social During the Holidays
Dr. Nobel in Psychology Today: How to Be UnLonely During the Holidays
The Foundation for Art and Healing: UnLonely for the Holidays
Resources from The Mighty:
Learn more about the UnLonely Project in the video below.