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As we enter fall and the weather cools, most of us enjoy the quiet anticipation of fall activities with the kids, Thanksgiving dinners with our loved ones, and the Christmas cheer we all enjoy with our families.
Yet, for many struggling with mental health and substance use disorders, what should be a special time that allows us to connect with others, instead brings about more anxiety, depression, shame, and even worse isolation than regularly experienced. “For many, the holidays can be filled with loneliness and sadness. Depression and anxiety, which tend to rise during this time, are expected to be even worse this year when isolation is already at a peak” (Avitzur, 2020).
Learning how to combat Holiday Isolation is so important to celebrate together, safely and healthy this season. Jeff Young with Granite Mountain Behavioral has a few tips to help our holiday season be full of merry and cheer!
1. Don’t Seek Solutions, Provide a Listening Ear
Although meaning well, finding a quick solution is not the best option according to Jeff Young with Granite Mountain Behavioral. “What you want to do in a situation where someone’s struggling with that is if you want to have empathy, you want to listen,” he said. “You want them to be heard.”
2. Have a Conversation
For many struggling, the last thing you want to do is walk into a holiday celebration and have questions hurled your way. Open up, ask yourself and your loved ones, “How are you feeling about the holidays coming up? What can I do to help?”
3. Open Up
“When we have a struggle and we keep it in the darkness of our mind, it grows,” Jess said. “It does take on a new life. It develops, it creates stories. It blossoms in a negative way.” Share with those closest in your life your fears, struggles, and anxieties. Create a safe space to talk about what you and your loved ones are going through.
“The antidote to isolation is connection,” adds Jeff. “Being able to help others and allow others to help you.”
Although there may not be a simple solution to combat holiday isolation, mental health, and substance use disorders, by taking steps to be closer to your loved ones this holiday season through dialogue, conversations, and support.
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