Though usually seen as a time for peace and joy, the holidays may be tough for people who have experienced grief or loss in the past year, especially if they struggle with substance use or mental health issues.
This year, holiday blues have been amplified by isolation and loss related to the COVID-19 pandemic. More people than usual are going through “firsts” without loved ones, or they are mourning jobs lost and holiday traditions altered for health safety reasons. People in recovery from mental health issues or alcohol and drug addiction may also be struggling with the added burden of disrupted social support networks as virtual meetings have largely replaced face-to-face contact.
To help navigate these challenges, Rosecrance encourages anyone who might need help to reach out during the holidays or anytime. Caring Access counselors can be reached at (866)-330-8729. A full menu of virtual resources is also available at www.rosecrance.org/virtual-support/.
“We’re conditioned to think the holidays are supposed to be like Hallmark movies, so there is a lot of pressure to be extra cheerful even without a pandemic,” said Rosecrance Regional President Carlene Cardosi. “In reality, we’re just human, and we need to make space for grief and sadness people may be experiencing.”
Here are a few more suggestions for those who may struggle with this year’s holiday rush:
- Celebrate resiliency. It has taken a lot of courage and determination to make it through 2020, and that is something to be commended.
- Remember basic self-care. If you’re hungry, angry, lonely, tired or stressed out, it will be more difficult to navigate life. Be sure to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep.
- Have a plan to cope with situations that might trigger substance use or harmful thoughts. This could be connecting with a mentor, friend, or sponsor before the holidays to make sure you have a safe place when you feel something isn’t right.
- Find stories of people who are living the gift of recovery, and let those encourage your spirit. Thanks to creative thinking during the pandemic, recovery-themed podcasts and blogs have proliferated. These include https://facesandvoicesofrecovery.org/, https://virtual-na.org/, and https://aa-intergroup.org/.
“At the holidays, spend time reflecting on what we’ve been through and be proud of yourself for making it,” Cardosi said. “If you are in recovery or struggling with mental illness, your resiliency this year will strengthen your hope to continue walking the journey.”