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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re ever feeling alone.