The holiday season, with its festive cheer and familial gatherings, can be a challenging time for many individuals, especially those grappling with the additional stress holidays can bring. In this blog, we explore the importance of prioritizing mental well-being during the holidays, focusing on three critical aspects: sobriety, family triggers, loneliness, and provide additional resources for veterans. 

Sobriety: 

For those on the journey of recovery, the holiday season can present a myriad of temptations and challenges. The prevalence of alcohol at celebratory events can be a trigger for individuals in sobriety. It’s essential to acknowledge these challenges and adopt strategies to safeguard one’s commitment to sobriety during this time. 

Firstly, communication is key. Sharing your commitment to sobriety with close friends and family can create a supportive environment. Choose non-alcoholic alternatives to stay engaged in the festivities without compromising your goals and have an escape plan in case the desire to drink becomes overwhelming. Consider attending gatherings with a sober friend or seeking out sober events to connect with like-minded individuals facing similar challenges. Lastly, have an escape plan in the event the urges to use run high. 

Family Triggers:

The holidays often mean spending time with family, and for some, this can be a source of stress and emotional triggers. Unresolved family issues or strained relationships may resurface during gatherings, leading to increased anxiety or feelings of isolation. 

Setting boundaries becomes crucial in managing family triggers. Clearly communicate your limits and expectations with family members and be prepared to prioritize your mental health when necessary. Consider having a support system in place, whether it’s a trusted friend or therapist, to discuss any challenging emotions that may arise. 

It’s also important to practice self-compassion and forgiveness. The holidays may not magically mend familial issues, but acknowledging and accepting the imperfections can alleviate some of the emotional burdens. Remember that it’s okay to prioritize your mental well-being, even if it means taking a step back from certain family dynamics. 

Loneliness: 

While the holidays are often associated with togetherness, not everyone has a strong support system or family to celebrate with. Loneliness can intensify during this time, contributing to feelings of isolation and sadness.

Combating loneliness starts with proactive measures. Reach out to friends, acquaintances, or local community groups to explore holiday events or gatherings. Volunteering can be a fulfilling way to connect with others while contributing to a positive cause. If physical gatherings are not possible, leverage technology to stay connected with loved ones through video calls and virtual celebrations. 

Resources readily available for veterans during the holidays:

In recent years, the mental health community has made great strides in providing accessible resources for those in crisisHere are a couple of critical resources: 

As the holiday season approaches, prioritizing your well-being is a gift to yourself. Engage in activities that bring you joy, whether it’s reading, listening to music, or pursuing a hobby. Taking care of your mental health is a valid and essential aspect of navigating the holiday season.  

By fostering open communication, setting boundaries, and engaging in self-care, you can navigate the holidays with resilience and come out on the other side feeling empowered and mentally well. 

Support the mission of Heroes on the Water to provide wellness and community to our heroes and their families.

Sources: 
https://www.cwcrecovery.com/blog/10-tips-stay-sober-holidays/ 
https://www.verywellmind.com/loneliness-and-the-holidays-3144645 
https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/December-2018/For-those-Who-Find-the-Holidays-Triggering  

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