WATCH: How to combat – or embrace – loneliness around the holiday season



The holiday season can be a time for community and family gatherings. But for some, it can be a season of more complicated feelings, including increased loneliness and isolation.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many people to physically distance from family members and loved ones for the last three years. Many may be choosing to keep their distance again this year during the “tridemic” of flu, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

A 2021 study from Morning Consult found that 58 percent of Americans are lonely. Some are lonely by circumstance and others by choice, but Dr. Jeremy Nobel, who teaches a class on loneliness at Harvard, says societal expectations play a role in loneliness during the holiday season.

“It’s not just the isolation — it’s the expectation that’s created by culture, by advertising that the only normal way to be in the holidays, the only way to access joy and celebration is to be with others,” Nobel told the PBS NewsHour’s Nicole Ellis. “So imagine the feeling if you don’t have a way to make those kinds of connections.”

This video was produced by Matt Rasnic, Nicole Ellis, Casey Kuhn, Yasmeen Alamiri, Julia Griffin and Megan McGrew.

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