Although we are told that this time of year should be all about family, friends and togetherness, the reality for so many individuals is that the festive period can make them feel more isolated and disconnected from people and places than ever before.
Isolation can mean different things to different people depending on their circumstances. From feeling geographically isolated and physically far away from people and community, social isolation which describes the absence of social contact with other people, or emotional isolation where people feel as though they don’t have anyone in whom they can confide in and be completely open and honest with.
It is really important to consider the fact that isolation at this time of year does not necessarily look like someone who is simply out of phone service and can’t be reached. It could be a friend or a work colleague who doesn’t have anywhere to go and no one to celebrate this Christmas with. It could be someone who works FIFO and has been rostered on this year. It could even be a family member who is sitting right there at the table with you but doesn’t feel like they are connected with the family dynamic. What ever the case may be, it’s important to remember that people who feel isolated do not choose to feel isolated. They may not show signs of isolation on the outside and as such, may also be doing a really good job of hiding signs of other psychological struggles at the same time.
With this in mind, make it a priority this festive season to really embrace those important relationships and connect on a level that dives beneath the surface. If you know someone who is geographically isolated, get them on a facetime call and put aside 20 minutes for a good face to face catch up. If you know someone who is socially isolated, reach out and invite them around. You know there’ll be enough food. They might decline the invitation initially, but that’s just pride getting in the way. Ask them a second and a third time and they will eventually cave and say yes. If it’s emotional isolation that someone is experiencing, well this is the hardest one to spot. The only thing you can do in this case is what you should be doing anyway. Show empathy and understanding and make the effort to really connect with those around you. Listen and absorb what people have to say without thinking about what you’re going to say next. And most importantly, understand that solid human connection is all anyone really wants at this time of year, so do what ever you can to make that a reality for those around you. You might never know just how big of an impact your positive vibes will make on someone’s life.