How will I deal with the holidays?
We all have expectations for the holidays. We want everything to go right, be fun, but the reality for some is that it’s a sad time of the year. Stress, fear and sadness comes from many directions. It can be from over committing, trying to make everything perfect or loneliness. But for most of us it has to do with our daily struggle because of addiction.
We’re not alone. There are many that struggle, even the ones that fake their way through it. When we see all those cheerful people in the malls looking all happy, you’d be surprised how many actually feel blue. They just don’t want to be honest and show their true feelings. Many of us have to deal with the crazy relatives, parties you don’t want to be at, or the long lines at the stores. Why do you think they call it: “Surviving the holidays.”
Lessening the Pain
What can exacerbate the feelings of depression is that everyone, including ourselves, expects us to be happy during this season, even when we may have a legitimate reason to feel blue. Be genuine about how you’re feeling. Acknowledge your feelings. There is nothing wrong with that. There a few tips that can help lessen the pain.
- Do not fight the feelings. Suppressing emotions isn’t healthy. Give these emotions time to be felt.
- Don’t focus on what could of been.
- Take a moment to catch your breath.
- Start a new tradition. Grab the family and do a vacation. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just get away in the car.
- If you’re not comfortable, be honest and let others know, “I’m not feeling up to this right now.”
- Organize a gift drive, work a soup kitchen. Volunteer
- Do something for yourself. Doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s special.
- Don’t live in the those feeling. It’s OK to acknowledge the feelings but living in them day after day will cause deep depression.
- Go for a walk. Exercise is a great stress reliever.
Grieving Through the Holidays
For those that have lost a love one this is especially a hard time.
- Take time to grieve.
- Find ways to honor the person you miss. A2WG has people who give us Tribute Gifts “in honor of” that person.
- Break out the photos and reminisce. It won’t be easy, but it will make you feel better talking about your love one.
- Reach out to others in support groups. The Dove House has a weekly grief and survivors group.
Supporting a Grieving Friend
For those that are going to be talking to folks that have lost a love one. Empathy is key. Here are some helpful tips.
Don’t run from them. I’m serious, not talking to them is hard and they can tell when you’re avoiding them. I understand you’re afraid of saying something that will upset them, but don’t let that stop you. If you want something to talk to them about, talk about their love one. Tell them about cherished moments that you or someone you know has had with them. Remember, running from them can be very hurtful.
Watch this video Empathy vs. Sympathy
Sometimes not saying anything is the right thing to do. Just offer them a hug. Ask them if they would like to go for a walk. Let them lead the conversation. Often the best thing we can give a grieving person is the freedom to speak freely.
If Your Loved One is in Active Addiction
If your love one is still in the grips of addiction, then please let them know that you love them. The words ‘I love you’ mean so much to them. They might not show it, but it does. My son reminds me often that he remembers me showing unconditional love. No strings attached, just love!
Happy Holidays! (or not)
Written by Guest Blogger Ed Brazell
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