Loneliness and the holidays

December 2023


While the holiday period can be an opportunity to celebrate with family and friends, it can also be a difficult time. We spoke with our CEO, Associate Professor Michelle Limabout why some people may feel lonely during this time, what they can do and what people around them can do to support them.


Why do people feel lonely during the holiday period? 

People may experience increased social isolation during the holidays it they do not have family or friends around them. Because of the increased social isolation, some people may feel more lonely especially in the short term. If people have recently experienced social challenges including a relationship breakdown, bereavement, or a move to a new location, they may experience loneliness during this period.  

Are there situations that might contribute to people feeling lonely over this time?  

A disrupted social environment in which people have to change their social behaviours even for a short time may lead to loneliness. However, when people readjust or get back to their social routines, this loneliness may recede.  

 Who gets lonely? Is it just certain people?  

Everyone feels lonely at some point. But if you do live alone, living in a remote or regional area, are aged between 18-25 or 45-54, you may be more vulnerable to feeling lonely. 

What is your top tip for people who may be feeling lonely or worried they will be at this time? 

Plan ahead – check if with your friends and family about their plans for Christmas. If possible, make your plans to be with others if you tend to feel lonely during this time. If you do not have plans, remember it is ok and normal to feel lonely.  

What is your top tip for how can we support people who we think may feel lonely especially at this time?  

If you know someone who may be spending the holidays by themselves, reach out to them and welcome them into your home or planned activities. It is a time for us to be generous socially and this will benefit not just their wellbeing but also our own wellbeing.  

Looking for connection? Search our free National Directory here

While many services take a break over the holidays these phones lines are operating as well as national helplines that can be found here. 

G’day Line and online forums for Australians over 50 years.   

Phone 1 300 920 552 8am- 8pm 7 days a week (AEDT) 

Grief line Helpline and online forums for anyone over the age of 18 years experiencing grief and loss across Australia.  

Phone 1 300 845 745 8am- 8pm 7 days a week 

friendline for anyone who needs to reconnect or just wants a chat. 

Phone 1800 424 287 10am- 8pm 7 days a week. 

Listening Ear  for anyone who wants a chat, a confidential non crisis service 9am – 9pm 7 days a week. Phone 02 9477 6777