The holidays are full of love, laughter, cheer, gifts, gingerbread cookies, and Christmas trees, or at least according to many greeting card companies and the thousands of holiday commercials that start broadcasting the day after Halloween. For many, the holidays can be a magnificent time of the year, but for others the holidays can magnify feelings of loneliness and emptiness. Just because you are alone during the holiday season does not make you the Grinch or Scrooge. Being alone during the holidays can be difficult for many, especially those who are diagnosed with a mental illness or a substance use disorder (SUD). Regardless of whether you are alone or with loved ones during the holiday season, you can always find ways to appreciate the holiday cheer. Below are some ways to stay mentally and emotionally healthy around and during the holiday season.
- Volunteering: The holiday season is a time for giving. Even if you don’t have material things to give, donating your time can be extremely valuable and appreciated around this time of year. Many volunteer opportunities present themselves around the holidays, such as volunteering at a local homeless shelter or a toy drive. Many organizations need volunteers to help wrap gifts before they send them off to people in need. Giving your time to someone around the holidays not only lends a helping hand to that individual, but it can give you a sense of appreciation. You may even make new friends.
- Treating yourself: The holiday season is about giving to others, but it is just as important to give back to yourself. Self-care should be practiced year-round including during the holiday season. Treating yourself to a gift or a fun experience around the holidays is important and allows you to spend some quality time with yourself also.
- Hosting a Christmas gathering with friends: Although you might feel like it, you are not the only one spending the holidays alone. Many people feel isolated around this time of the year if they are away from their family and friends. Feelings of loneliness arise around the holidays due to frayed or broken relationships. We often think about that one significant other, friend or family member we don’t see any more. Reach out to other individuals who are spending the holidays alone and plan to get-together for a meal, exchange gifts, or decorate a Christmas tree.
- Showing gratitude: Regardless of whether you are three years sober, two weeks sober or are still in rehab, it is important to express gratitude wherever you are in life. There will always be someone who is more fortunate and someone who is less fortunate than you are. Therefore, it is important to give thanks for wherever you currently are in your journey of life.
- Enjoying the festivities: The average American spends multiple dollars on Christmas gifts and decorations. Although the expenditure on Christmas music, decorations, gingerbread, Santa Clause and Christmas lights is spread over three months, the holiday period can be overwhelming for many people. Such people should try to appreciate the little things about the holiday spirit, such as the change in weather, fires in the fireplace, holiday art festivals and, all the tasty desserts. You can do this without becoming bogged down in the consumer aspect of the holidays and enjoy the true spirit of the festival.
- Maintaining your regular schedule: It is easy to feel lonelier around the holidays and deviate from your schedule. You may just want to stay in bed or, on the contrary, you may try to attend as many parties as possible. Regardless of your strategy, maintain your routine and attend your scheduled meetings, counseling sessions, and sobriety networking events. Eggnog and spiked apple cider are just some of the many temptations that you may encounter around the holidays. Keeping your scheduled routine will equip you with the tools to deal with these triggers confidently.
- Remembering you are not alone: Although the holiday season can trigger feelings of isolation, keep in mind that you are not the only one feeling this way. It is important to reach out to others and find company in the true belief that you are not alone. Call a friend or a loved one and be honest with your feelings. Sometimes just talking about your feelings can help the loneliness to subside.
The way ahead
The holiday season can be a time for relapse and going down the wrong path. Multitude temptations lurk, and this time of year can be extremely lonely for many people. If you or someone you know is battling a mental health disorder, an addiction or co-occurring conditions, you must contact a professional.
Invictus Health Group partners with multiple residential mental health centers that offer comprehensive evidence-based mental health recovery plans for patients dealing with mental health disorders. Call our 24/7 mental health helpline 866-548-0190 and speak with a representative to understand the options to achieve a better mental health. You can also chat online with our experts who can guide you about the services offered at our partner treatment centers.