Embracing the Holiday Season with Compassion

Nurturing Wellness for Individuals Struggling with Addiction and Mental Health Issues

The time of year when we come together with friends and family is supposed to be a time of joy and unity; however, it is not always so simple.

For many people celebrating the holidays while struggling with addiction or mental health, it can prove to be a herculean task. This calls for us to empathize with one another and search for ways in which we can promote wellness as we move forward.

Spanning the homey days, addicts and mentally unhealthy individuals may feel pushed to comply with social standards like everyone else, which worsens due to family actions and substance abuse overloads that are commonly found at holiday parties. This can make a person feel lonelier and trigger past traumas, making things too much to handle.

Creating a Compassionate Environment:

Emphasizing the significance of acceptance and comprehension to aid those combating addictions and/or mental health complications is essential. Educating ourselves around the trials faced by these individuals throughout the holiday season can be one of the critical components in promoting an environment of support with reduced guilt and an understanding of each other.

One way that you could help someone be supportive is by providing a safe environment so that the person could feel comfortable in the setting and that the person does not feel judged if they decide to talk about whatever it is that they may be feeling. Ways that you could provide a safe environment are by making a friend feel comfortable using communication to better get to know somebody that you have recently befriended and they do not tend to trust you. Trusting can give people a sense of not feeling as if they are being judged so that they are able to talk about their emotions. Another way to build trust could be to share a secret that you were told by a friend in which you decided not to share, which will help the person trust you. You should make sure not to say anything to anyone because if another person finds out that you know something personal about their friend, then that individual is going to feel as if they can trust no one.

Organize events that are sober-oriented:

Choose holiday activities that have nothing to do with alcohol or drugs, such as going to the movies or a holiday party with sober friends. Choose activities that are fun but not the same activities that you used to do when you were using. Try ideas such as volunteering at a local homeless shelter, working at a soup kitchen, or going in rounds in your sober houses and saying what you are thankful for. When doing something with a lot of people normally, everyone will have some sort of substance in them. With no other option, if you are in a small town, you may have to make your own fun if you cannot find the right things to do. Make a challenge to drive to the closest furthest part of the city to see some interesting sites that you haven't been to. If seeing the sites isn't your thing, take your camera or smartphone and just take some neat and interesting pictures. Have your pictures printed, and then you can do whatever you want. You may want to put it in a memory book.

To circumvent these negative coping mechanisms, we can suggest alternative methodologies, such as meditation or journaling, for stress triggers like familial disputes or traumatic memories.

Take Mindful Eating program:

In this season of excess, guide the individual to mindful consumption and portion control to prevent mood volatility.

The Substances 101 column on providing holiday support for someone with a substance use challenge suggested providing resources by sharing info on local support groups, counseling options, and helplines available during the holidays so the person with an alcohol or other drug challenge is aware of them.

Promote Strong Social Bonds:

Foster supportive social connections, for example, by rapidly connecting with sympathizing peers or backing gatherings, that can be found on the web or in the group to encourage reinforcing connections that can be a wellspring of comfort.

Advocate for the practice of self-sustentation tactics to demonstrate the high level of significance they hold, such as participating in the activity of taking a serene and peaceful hike amongst other entities that inhabit nature, engaging and focusing on the euphoric practice of mindfulness, or partaking in recreational activities that one may find pleasure or tranquility in.

If we are to have a wonderful and happy holiday season, we must all work with compassion and understanding to help those who have addiction and mental health issues. By creating an environment around them that is nurturing and not shaming, by offering alternatives that will help them cope in place of what they are addicted to, and by making sure that self-caring steps are being relayed. We should all approach those with addiction with empathy, love, and support them in any way that we can.