Do Australians feel lonely at Christmas? Here’s what the research says

Loneliness at Christmas time

Christmas is said to be a time for connecting with friends, family and having fun. But it can also be a time of loneliness. The results of a 2022 Australian Red Cross survey looking at the experience of the Christmas period revealed that 47 percent of males 18-29 said they often feel lonely during the festive season.

Loneliness is a subjective emotion, where we feel our social needs are not being met by the quantity or especially the quality of our social relationships (Hawkley & Cacioppo, 2010) . Christmas, with its social media onslaught of often unrealistic imagery, assumptions about gift-giving, socializing and family contact  can be a period when our connections are highlighted.  Comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy if the period doesn’t match up to preconceived notions of how our lives should be at Christmas.

The cost-of-living changes may also have an impact on the capacity to celebrate Christmas.  Fifty four percent of respondents to the 2022 Australian Red Cross survey agreed the rising cost of living and/or their current economic situation may negatively impact their ability to connect or celebrate with loved ones this year.

However, this does not have an impact on loneliness. Social connection can occur in many ways. More on that below.

Loneliness It’s not just a Christmas thing

The research suggests that loneliness is an ongoing issue. Not just something for christmas time.Loneliness in Australia has been present for some time.  Michelle Lim and Colleagues’ 2020 report, titled Survey of health and wellbeing—Monitoring the impact of COVID-19 revealed that in 2018 and 2019 one in four Australians reported problematic levels of loneliness.  The report went on to state that since COVID-19 this has increased to one in two Australians reporting feeling lonely.

Loneliness it might not be who you think

While the stereotype of loneliness might be the lonely old man or woman. The research seems to suggest something else. A 2017 study by Mind in the UK found that the age group most likely to say they feel embarrassed to admit that they’re lonely at Christmas was 18 to 24 year olds (45%) . The anonymous 2022 Australian Red Cross survey identified  that 47 percent of males 18-29 said they often feel lonely during the festive season. 

Loneliness what can you do about it

Loneliness can be managed in many ways. The top three ways people who participated in the 2022 Australian Red Cross survey  planned to help others feel more connected were donating goods (36 per cent), money (27 per cent), or checking in with isolated people in their networks (23 per cent). If you have young men in your life, perhaps connecting with them could be a very important way of Christmas giving.

Loneliness, including ongoing loneliness may also be managed through simple and inexpensive actions. For example,  a phone call, saying hello to someone. Another blog on this website gives ideas on how to manage loneliness. There are also organizations that have been setup to tackle loneliness , Ending Loneliness Together is a nationwide organization that has resources and guides to help you deal with loneliness.


Loneliness is a very human experience. However it doesn’t have to be ongoing. There are several things that can be done. If loneliness or social isolation are bothering you, or if you have mental health difficulties that are creating loneliness, seeking help is important. 

The Centre for Clinical Psychology in Melbourne offers evidence-based treatment for a range of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, which are sometimes linked to loneliness. Our therapists use a range of techniques, including cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) to help clients improve their mental health and wellbeing. If you are stuck with loneliness leading you to feel bad we can help. If you’re ready to take the first step towards feeling better, we encourage you to book an appointment with one of our experienced therapists. You can call us on 03 9077 0122 or book online