How To Remember You’re Not Alone This Holiday Season

The holidays are a double-edged sword.

On one hand, there’s the excitement that comes from holiday traditions, getting together with family and friends, and having some time off of work. 🙂 On the other, those who struggle with things like depression or the lack of family traditions can find it a harder time to enjoy.

My first Christmas in recovery was spent in jail. I was 30 minutes away from my family as the sun rose and they were able to come downstairs to presents under the tree, some as an addition from Santa because it’s a tradition that we just decided not to abandon as we got older. The lights in my cell automatically came on at 5 am like they did every morning and the heavy electronic door opened at 6. There was nothing special about that day because it was the same as every other day for the past 3 months and the next 5 to come.

It was hard. Christmas is my favorite holiday and although I was able to talk to my family on the phone, nothing compared to being with them. I had lived with more or less the same group of girls for months, but on that day I felt more alone than anything. We tried our best to keep our spirits up, but they can only so high as you constantly think of the world outside.

This Thanksgiving, I had a client tell me that someone she knew committed suicide. It was a reminder to me that although holidays are a time for celebration, because of that fact, they can be incredibly hard for some people. If you or someone you know may be having a tough time this holiday season, here are some tips to help you remember you’re not alone.

See also: How To Stay Sober During the Holidays

The holidays are a tough time for some people -- here's how to remember you're not alone this holiday season

Call/text someone

Whether a friend or family member, make it a point to make contact with someone you care about. If you can, spend time in person with them, but if that’s not possible, at least start a conversation. This is one of the best reminders that you’re not alone.

Go to the movies

Going to the movies is a popular destination on Christmas or the holidays in general. They’re a quick way to surround yourself with other people and enjoy a movie at the same time.

Read

Reading may only be a temporary solution, but it’s still helpful to me. I’m able to dive into whatever storyline I’m reading and spend time with the characters involved. I can be alone at home but feel like I’m involved in a much larger world.

Hug a pet

Whenever I’m feeling down or alone, I make sure to hug Donut a lot — more than I’m sure she’d like. She’s pretty awesome though because normally she will just sit there and let me hold her until I feel like I’ve met my hug quota.

If you don’t have a pet but animals make you happy, see if you can make a trip to the zoo or even a local dog park to watch them play. Don’t worry, I did it plenty before I actually had a dog and no one really cares. Just don’t steal one 🙂

Make a gratitude list

I’m a big proponent of gratitude lists because it causes me to focus on everything good in my life. I’ve done them for years and even though there were times when I didn’t have much to be grateful for, I could still focus on the basics: food, shelter, etc. Feeling alone can sometimes feel suffocating, so by diverting your attention to everything good, hopefully you’ll be able to breathe again.

Remember that you’re not

Sometimes even surrounding yourself with other people can make you feel alone. In situations like this, remind yourself that you’re not. It might feel like you’re the only one you can rely on, but remind yourself that you’re not. As alone as you might feel, there’s always someone who will be there for you if you can ask for it. You are never alone unless you really want to be.

Lots of love to all of you this holiday season — my inbox is always open if you need it. Send an email to erinsinsidejob@gmail.com if you’re ever feeling alone.

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10 Comments

  1. December 18, 2017 / 5:11 am

    Such a lovely and important post, the holidays can be incredibly hard. I definitely agree on the dog hugs 🙂

  2. December 18, 2017 / 7:15 am

    Tank you for sharing this, there is truly this side of the holidays that I think most people feel to some extent. Since I don’t have a pup, I decided to start volunteering and adoption events as a pet handler to get my puppy fill. It certainly lifts my spirits 🙂 Have good week, Erin!

  3. December 18, 2017 / 9:29 am

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I think this is something that it’s easy to forget if you are surrounded with friends and family, but I love the tips of hugging a pet, of reading. I love reading my Bible or reading another non fiction book. 🙂 And it’s such a blessing to be able to call or just text a friend.
    Emily recently posted…Comment on Life Lately: Cookies, Baking, Short Runs, Weddings by beautyinchristMy Profile

  4. December 18, 2017 / 10:35 am

    I’m so grateful that I don’t suffer with anxiety or depression but two of my kids do. My daughter’s kicked into high gear after her son was born. It didn’t matter that she had a loving attentive spouse and her mom a mile away. The fear in her eyes was gut wrenching. She is better now…For many people, especially in recovery the holidays are just a reminder of the mess they created and the family they alienated. I love your movie idea especially seeing a comedy. I often go by myself on a Saturday night. For an hour or two I am transported to another world and I forget mine especially if I’m obsessing about a part of it that isn’t optimal. It stops the chatter in my head for a bit anyway. Happy holidays sweet Erin. 💜
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  5. December 18, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    <3 lovely post Erin. Holidays can definitely be tough for so many. I actually just found out about a close family friend who passed away and all I can think about is how devastating it is for their family this holiday season. Being thankful for one another (and expressing it) is always so important.

  6. Sandra
    December 18, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    Thank you for writing and sharing this post! I had been suffering with depression for 3 years and one of the things that helped me realize I wasn’t alone in the early stages of working through it was listening to your podcast with Healthy Maven. Thankfully I am doing so much better and its in part to people like you who share your very personal stories with the public.

  7. December 19, 2017 / 10:52 am

    Being single and seeing all my friends get married and have kids has certainly made the holidays feel very lonely throughout the years. I was just telling my boyfriend the other night how hard they are for me.
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  8. Kelsey
    December 22, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    My Christmas changed overnight of what was planned, and reading this let me realize it is okay to not celebrate as normal and to tune into the small things. I am thinking of taking Christmas Day as a massive self-care day to read, find gratitude in the year that has gone by, and leave space to see my intentions for 2018. Thank you, Erin.

  9. January 2, 2018 / 3:31 pm

    Thank you for this, Erin. I didn’t get to see family around the holidays (and on top of that, got sick!) so my spirits were seriously dampened this (oops, last) year, but this is a great reminder that sometimes Christmas is just a day like any other and we can get through it.
    San recently posted…Year in review: 2017My Profile

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